Nate Fits Nuggets Better Than Bulls

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CHICAGO – Two million dollars, if counted out in a stack of $100 bills, would stand 86 inches tall. So if the Denver Nuggets want Nate Robinson to make a really splashy entrance at the news conference announcing his signing, they could have the explosive, 5-foot-9, three-time NBA Slam Dunk champ vault over his estimated salary for 2013-14 (while hoping it doesn’t take him 14 tries to get it right).

Robinson does splashy pretty well, and for a Denver team in need of bodies, pace, points production and excitement, the expected signing of the pocket-rocket combo guard on a two-year deal worth $4.03 million looks to be a solid fit.

Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer are gone, Danilo Gallinari might be out for a good chunk of the season and a backcourt built around Ty Lawson’s blistering speed should be able to run through its gears with only minor adjustments when the Nate Show subs in.

But as always with Robinson, there are reasons why he keeps a suitcase packed, why he’ll be donning his sixth team’s uniform in less than five years this October.

They’re essentially the same reasons the Chicago Bulls passed on bringing him back, despite a one-year stay in which he proved himself to be indispensible to the Bulls’ trudge to the postseason’s second round. With Derrick Rose sidelined from start to finish in 2012-13 in his big rehab/tease following ACL surgery, Robinson played in all 82 games, starting 23. His 2,086 minutes logged, 921 field-goal attempts and 1,074 points all were his second-biggest numbers in those categories in his eight-year career.

In the playoffs, with Kirk Hinrich (calf) going down, Robinson started eight of Chicago’s 12 games. He put up real starter’s numbers then – 16.3 ppg, 4.4 apg, 33.7 mpg – and turned in one of the postseason’s most memorable performances with 34 points (23 in the fourth quarter) of a triple-overtime victory over Brooklyn. He had 27 in the Game 1 upset at Miami in the East semifinals, but withered under the Heat’s defensive attention, making just 14 of his final 50 shots in the last four games.

The Bulls’ players and coaches appreciated Robinson’s heroics, whether driven by his ball-dominating habits or now, because with Rose, Hinrich and Luol Deng eventually unavailable, Chicago’s options were limited. Coach Tom Thibodeau for much of an injury-riddled season was able to virtually plug Robinson into Rose’s role – heavy minutes, shot-seeking ways, bail-out freedom deep in shot clocks, defensive leniency, all the D-Rose amenities – and, as an emergency starter, he thrived.

It seemed evident after his playoff performances that Robinson’s price had risen beyond the Bulls’ budget. Particularly when they committed their mini-mid-level salary cap exception to Milwaukee’s Mike Dunleavy at the start of free agency. Even at a veteran’s minimum salary, though, the chances of Robinson being back in Chicago were almost nil.

Here’s the problem: With Rose returning this fall and, if healthy, ramping up to average his usual 35-37 minutes, Robinson would go back to scrounging for playing time. The Bulls are committed to Hinrich to back up both guard spots (Jimmy Butler is the likely starter at shooting guard) and, as the third point, second-year man Marquis Teague, whose demeanor is better suited to long stretches of pine.

As a Rose understudy pressed into duty, Robinson was perfect. As a supporting cast member required to know his role and remain patient, that would be chafing waiting to happen. He was a big part of the Bulls’ 2012-13 season but if he were a big part of 2013-14, something again would have gone seriously wrong.

58 Comments

  1. Nbafan says:

    I think Nate is one of the most inspirational NBA players. Good job, Denver! I wish he played on one of my favorite teams and i think he should start too. “Average” male height and he can block Yao Ming & Lebron, be the leading scorer in some playoff games, run back to play after just getting stitches…what an amazing guy!

  2. Charles J. Gomez says:

    Nate Robinson is a true guard in the N.B.A. He can run the pick-n-roll He can split a defender And is not intimidaded in the least to shoot a three pointer He is one of the most premier players in the N.B. A. And we are glad to have him as part of the
    Denver Nuggets

  3. Rosesrred says:

    thanks for everything Nate and the best of luck to you!

  4. MrBasketball says:

    bulls should have kept Nate the Great (NTG). Hinrich is offensively challenged and that may be putting it lightly. now the bulls will have to play Rose big minutes again. Tom Thibedeau is good defensive coach but has not learned how manage his players minutes. that’s what lead to his players breaking down last year. you cannot play rose, butler and deng for 40 something minutes a game for 82 games.

    Nate could come in and spell butler or rose. Butler needs to start so he can guard the other teams two or three.

    bulls will not be going to the championship next year unless 1993 MJJ appears in uniform and plays the season for them.

  5. views and opinion from a fan says:

    The Bulls had a better team then the year before. Even with all the injuries. So why not bring Marco and Nate back with a healthy team? If we don’t do as good or go as far. Who will be to blame?

  6. bj says:

    I dont agree with this article, anyhow it sounds right. I think the Bulls franchise and many alike miss some key elements to the game of basketball, its too much abo board numbers and this ridicule of cap space, Nate meant alot more to the Chicago fans! amazing athlete, but unfortuneately he is one of the players that are not allowed to miss.
    this cap space is fccking up roosters across the board because of the amount of money they bind up,
    rather make a cap space for top salary for one player, if max is 5 mill dollares a year, then you can hace as many 5 milldollar players there are room for on a rooster, of max 20 players.
    the superplayers can make, and will make money on other endorsements-
    If anyone follws the price of footballers (soccer), Cavani went to Paris St.germain for stunning and crazy 55 mill euro over 5 years, I do not want that !
    anyway hope Bulls will find a way!!

  7. Ajkml says:

    Nate is way underpaid. He brings energy to the team n can spark a run or rally for the team when he is on the floor. stupid decision to let him go. Hinrich who? If Bull wants to keep a guy that doesn’t do much and let Nate go…. Bulls does not deserve to be a contender next season. Good luck to Nate and hope he eventually get the respect and paycheck he deserve.

  8. #BullsFAnDAN says:

    Thanks Nate for the great year you gave us. We will not forget what you did for us. You hustled every night, every game. Mr. Excitement. You wore the most famous uniform of the most famous team on the planet well. Thanks for your service. #Bulls

  9. KDBhoops says:

    i think the bulls should have kept him, kirk hinrich is a better defender, but that’s it,

    Nate has proven to be fearless, he was patient during the whole season, bc he really didn’t get that many minutes, but toward the end when Hinrich got hurt, he calmly stepped in and stepped up, BIG
    I think the bulls are missing out, he would be a great addition to D-Rose, they will need someone to come in when D-Rose is out and keep that spark going, score a few points, and just play his role.

    Hinrich is a good person maybe, but we talking about basketball, Bulls made a horrible decision to let Nate go.

  10. Brain32 says:

    This is a steal, most underrated player in the NBA ever!
    For God’s sake Kwame Brown at 31 still get’s more money than Nate, that is silly beyond belief.
    The only reason Nate is going through this is freakin D’Antoni blaiming Nate for his own inability to do something and while we are at that D’Antoni is not much of an NBA coach anyway…

  11. No Regrets says:

    Sounds promising . . Nate can be great in the right circumstances, but very limited in others – he cannot organize the offense, and he doesn’t play D, or rebound for that matter – he was great for the bulls last year when they needed scoring in the face of so many absences, but the bulls are too good of a team to rely on a player like this
    he could fit in well with the nuggets’ type of play, time will tell

  12. Jay says:

    As a very big bulls fan myself. Y’all are not giving hinrich enough credit….. with him starting Bulls won a lot more games. he provided control and ball movement on the court with way better defense than Nate. Not to mention Nate made a lot of bad decisions with the ball in his hands. Even though i will miss that spark he provided. With Rose coming back and Hinrich being the smart defensive backup there will not be enough playing time for Nate and his worth too much money to keep on the bench. Not too upset with the move. It makes sense.

  13. Danny Big Heart Beats Big Size says:

    Very upseting as a bulls fan to see Nate go as he was the most exciting player to watch last year. I agree he does diserve to be a starter and he definatly would not be one in Chicago.. at least for a few weeks. Kirk was one of my favorite players ever but he is done. He can not stay healthy for the life of him, for every 3 weeks he plays he has to sit out 2 weeks at least. This is where Nate would have been perfect. He is at least 300% better than the waste of space Teague.
    Oh I’m also a little upset this artical didnt’ mention the largest reason why the bulls didnt resign Nate.. Thibodeau hates him and he openly admited it. He told Paxton he did not want him on his team because he does not like him. Thibodeau’s hatred for a man with the biggest heart may have just cost us a guaranteed championship for next season.. They need to make a new rule where you can trade a coach if you want :).

  14. Rob says:

    2 Million?? This is sad compared to Andre Miller getting $5 mill, Chris Paul getting $107 over about 5 years, Kobe’s $30 million this year….
    Salaries should be regulated more evenly.
    And Nate pulled all that weight last year for the Bulls, only for 1 million????

    • akeem says:

      I’m with you, 2 mil ? That’s ALL??? This guy wins games. Look how he came threw against my Nets, I hated it, but this guy deserves more.

  15. euro says:

    I don’t understand why Nate is only a “one season” guy.

  16. euro says:

    better fit? what about ty lawson? ty’s backup?

  17. Shelley says:

    Nate is the best little man ever I can’t believe Chicago is letting him go he and D. Rose would be perfect together!

  18. IAMIDIOT says:

    D.ROSE is at fault here BCOZ he can’t keep up to NATE, If he stayed in BULLS he would have looked like the STAR PLAYER rather than the next guy. feel bad about NATE, I know D,ROSE was part of this to NOT resign NATE.

  19. J says:

    he needs to be a sixth man not a starter
    so Denver is not the place for him
    go to Washington or new Orleans

  20. J says:

    14 tries ha ha ha that’s funny :)

  21. MR says:

    The problem with Robinson is his unstable form. He is capable of exploding with +30 points, as well as give poor performance of 20-ish percent field goals made. I wonder what his performance in Nuggets will be.

  22. Don says:

    I like Nate, but he is hard headed, cannot play defense, is not that smart of a player and just goes nuts some times – totally out of control. He is a street ball player more than an NBA surperstar. That is why he has been on 6 teams in 5 years. Good luck to Nate, but I expect Teague and others to step up.

  23. New Dawn says:

    Nate is a game changer no doubt

  24. karniej18 says:

    I wonder why there is no block on Lebronie, really not allowed!

  25. Neha says:

    Honestly, I will miss Nate the Great but the reason why Hinrich was picked over Nate is because of his defense. The Bulls are a defense oriented team and it kills me to say that Hinrich is a better defender than Nate. If Nate was better or just as good as Hinrich at D, then trust me, Nate would still be in a Bulls uniform.

    • Tret says:

      Right,i really think Hin and Nate had some differences.
      Hin is important because of his defense and a great traditional point guard.
      He may give D-Rose an off-ball play.
      It’s like a curry-Jack plays.
      But Nate is a modern point guard, a SHOT MAKER.
      This will give D-Rose a time to set the play more than Nate.
      But what will be interesting IF THEY did get Nate is that they could play a 2-card set which rose and Hin as the starter and nate on the bench.
      If you need defense,bring hin more minutes.
      if you need offense,Bring nate more minutes.

  26. Loose Change says:

    He’s the modern day Allen Iverson and he proved last season that he’s not just a role player but a bonafide starter.

  27. Baller101 says:

    Those plays or dunks are much better compared to some NBA “star” players.

  28. WTF???!!!! The number one play should have been the block on lebron james!!!!!

  29. patrick says:

    Dumb imo. Robinson is WAY better imo than Hinrich. I think they made a poor choice. Shud have gave Robinson priority behind Rose, and put Hinrich as third string or traded him.

  30. Jimmy Buckets says:

    As a Bulls fan I am really mad that we let him go. Not only because he truly is NATE the GREAT but because of what we got out of Hinrich……pretty much more of what we already had, defense. After last season we proved that we could survive with Nate on the court defensively, and with rose back he would be on the court even less. More importantly what I noticed is the way he bonded with the team, especially jimmy and teauge, That is the kind of attitude and leadership that any team needs. Gar and thibs go on and on about how we need more offense and guys who can create their own shot (which we do), well HERE HE IS, ALL THE OFFENSE AND PERSONAL SHOT MAKING YOU CAN ASK FOR annnnnnnnd we let him walk away. I’m very disappointed especially after what he did for us in the playoffs.

    And most importantly
    …Gonna miss that spark

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      Bulls just lost an important piece of their team… And we don’t know if Rose is going to be himself next year… Looks like Miami IND rematch …

  31. Red says:

    Thank goodness someone took him cause I don’t want my team to get him. What a big relief!

    • Nuggets 4 Life says:

      When he dunks over your team next year, you will reconsider.

      • CALLIOU says:

        THIS^

      • Red says:

        I know he can dunk and I know he won the dunk contest at least once but I DO NOT care! I do not hate him I just don’t want him in my team. Thank Nuggets cause at least someone took him LMAO.

  32. Ace says:

    Bulls need to get rid of Hinrich… He’s a bum who never even should have been brought back. He acn’t perform under pressure. Secondly, We definitely should have kept Nate and if not, at least brought in Brandon Jennings, who is basically begging for another team. Im sure he would love to play along side of Derrick Rose, and with that we’re talking about the best 1-2 guard punch in the League. Not only will Miami have to Defend Derrick Rose, but also account for Brandon Jennings and Loul Deng! Thats a team that will get a ring… NO Question!

  33. "Stoooop it says:

    I wish the lakers woulda picked him up man!!!

  34. Jstew says:

    Nate the great! Drama and showmanship in a small package.

  35. ProFit says:

    Mr.Nate Robinson hands down hard worker, always looking to improve, when he is on the court always 10 steps ahead of everyone, you can learn allot from Nate Robinson, he plays like he is 6’2, never gives up on a play, reason Chicago went far in the playoffs, Why these teams are’ not paying him what he is worth? Why? Hinrich no comparison, they cant be serious, when you watched the playoffs Bulls vs Nets, Bulls vs Heat, all I can think about is how Nate took the bulls to another level, Court Leadership,

  36. bdaf says:

    Pocket-Rocket… I don’t think it means what you think it means…

  37. IMO bulls won’t be as good this year as last year, they’ll be no contest for the pacers or heat. We don’t even know if rosé will be himself coming back a year and a half later without playing a single NBA game. They lost Robinson who carried that team in the playoffs, if Nate Robinson is your leader in the playoffs that just says your team is screwed. Great player but not a leader.

    • Ro says:

      Pretty sure the Bulls will be better this year. That Derrick Rose guy might have something to do with it

    • Bull4lif3 says:

      Bulls went into the 2nd round last year after beating Brooklyn’s “Big three”.. Bulls played with literally 7 players throughout the playoffs with them being injured. Obviously with your biased three peat in mind you won’t believe Bulls stand a chance. Don’t be surprised when bulls get a top 3 seed this year

  38. day says:

    Nuggets give 2 million for the lil high flyer Nate Robinson!? Dunk champion, effort giving, crossover beast ? Talk about leading the league in steals….

  39. Mitra says:

    I am happy that Nuggets had a deal with Nate. Great player in a great team. I only hope that Nate will get more time to play and will play as a starter.

  40. michael says:

    i think it is a big mistake!!! they will miss his character!!!

  41. byrd says:

    Nate will fit in at the mile high. same speed same tempo as the rest of the guys.

    • slider821 says:

      leave it to the great writers at NBA.com to leave out how LONG he signed for. Anyone know? Nate’s contract is for $2m over __ years? 1 year? I thought he didn’t want another 1 yr?

  42. John says:

    i think a lot of people underestimate what he can do just cause of his height

    • B Radd says:

      Everey team needs a spark plug and that’s exactly what Nate is. his best fit would have been with the Pistons.

  43. Lakers4life says:

    So sad… Bulls should’ve kept him in case Rose, and Kirk get injured again.

  44. Meir says:

    What a waste of talent. Such energy should not be wasted on anyone’s bench. Hinrich versus Nate is a no brainer. The Nuggets made the deal of a lifetime and Nate Robinson will be a key differentiator there. Too bad the Hawks did not take him. I would have loved to see him in Atlanta…