Returning Players- Carmelo Anthony (SF); Kenyon Martin (PF – Player Option); Chauncey Billups (PG); Nene (C); JR Smith (SG); Chris Andersen (PF/C); Renaldo Balkman (SF); Ty Lawson (PG); Arron Affalo (SG); Coby Karl (SG – Team Option); Brian Butch (C)
Team Payroll (11 Players) – $74,121,685
Estimated Salary Cap – $56,000,000
Team Needs- Potential replacement for Carmelo in 2011; Post scoring; consistent perimeter shooting
Position Needs – SF, PF, C
Picks – None
Analysis- Another Western Conference team that has been on the precipice of moving to the next level, the Nuggets seem to take 2 step backs for every step forward. With the possible end of the Carmelo Anthony era coming next year, the Nuggets need to make some sort of move now to take advantage and make their pitch to keep him. With no cap room to join in the free agent market and no draft picks in a very deep draft, it would seem that the options were limited. Rumors have been circulating that the Nuggets are dangling Ty Lawson to try and get into the late lottery to mid-first round. Let’s assume they can get somewhere between the 10th and 16th pick – what will the Nuggets be looking for? The two biggest concerns are more consistent production out of the post positions and looking at possible replacements for Carmelo if he chooses to leave at the end of the season. In a draft deep with productive post players, I would look at Denver to target one of the power forwards who is left at this point. Ed Davis and Ekpe Udoh are the most likely candidates, though I am not sure either would significantly improve Denver. They would do much better to look at players such as Luke Babbitt, Gordon Hayward or Paul George who can bring immediate production off the bench and could become long-term solutions in Denver. All 3 are proven scorers, though I think Babbitt would be the best fit as he can play both the 3 and 4 easily and can create mismatches on the offensive end.
Again all of this may change depending on where they are able to get a pick, if they get one at all. The important thing is to make the most of Carmelo Anthony while they still have him, so expect them to do what they can to improve the team immediately.