Besides a couple offseason moves, the only thing Denver Nuggets fans have to judge first year general manager Tim Connelly off of is his first trade deadline.
Back on Feb. 21, I said the rookie GM passed his first deadline test because he brought some help to the Nuggets without destroying the future personnel or the future finances.
Now, a full month later, we can really see how Connelly’s first two mid-season trades turned out. We can really evaluate what bringing in PG Aaron Brooks, and F/C Jan Vesely did for Denver.
When the Jordan Hamilton-Brooks swap went down, the Nuggets REALLY needed point guard help. Ty Lawson was out with a rib injury, and we had just learned that Nate Robinson was done for the year with a torn ACL. Not to mention, the Nuggets STUNK with Randy Foye and Evan Fournier running the plays. It was the worst basketball I’ve seen in nine years from the team.
Connelly decided point guard help would come from five-year pro Brooks, and that decision has worked out well for the Nuggets. Brooks provided a much-needed floor general when Lawson was out, and he is averaging 10.9 points and 4.9 assists since the trade deadline. To put that in perspective, Ty Lawson’s old backup, Andre Miller, averaged 9.6 points and 5.9 assists last year. Both backups average about 2.0 turnovers a game.
Brooks looked good as a Nugget from the start. In his first three games with the Nuggets, the guard averaged 13.3 points and 5.0 assists. No one was happier than Randy Foye, because he didn’t have to struggle through playing point guard anymore. Brooks has also helped the Nuggets get some much needed wins with smart decision making in close games, like his play down the stretch in Monday’s win against the Los Angeles Clippers. He dished out three assists in the fourth quarter, which is more than Chris Paul and the most in the fourth.
Brooks also came up huge in Tuesday night’s nine-point win over the Detroit Pistons, scoring 27 points and dishing out 17 assists while Lawson was out sick. That victory helped keep the Nuggets momentum and recent “good” play going. With the win they’ve won four of five, including wins over the Miami Heat and the Clippers.
In all, Brooks is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. He is making just under a million a year, and with Robinson rehabbing a torn ACL, it makes a lot of sense for the Nuggets to keep him on the roster next year if they can keep that price. Although, it’s hard to see the Nuggets making that signing with two point guards already on the roster.
To me, Connelly still made a smart move grabbing Jan Vesely’s expiring contract for Andre Miller on deadline day. In the end, dumping a non-playable Miller will save the team about $10 million, and it’s the GM’s job to save money when he can.
Connelly also gave a big man coach, Brian Shaw, a real good look at a seven-footer who was the sixth pick in the 2011 draft. If Vesely did have the NBA skills that warranted the sixth pick, then Shaw would be able to bring it out.
Unfortunately, the dude is a bust. Vesely has only managed to average 10.4 minutes while playing in only 10 games. If he showed anything in practice, it’s not like the Nuggets were risking the playoffs by giving him floor time.
In those minutes Vesely is putting up a mere 2.8 points and 2.7 rebounds a game and he never looked like a solid NBA player to this writer.
However, the move was necessary. It was a small risk for a possible big reward. And although Vesely won’t be with the Nuggets next year, Andre Miller’s $4.6 million will be better spent elsewhere…. Like, maybe, for a little more Aaron Brooks.