We’re more than three days into NBA free agency and even though headlines are flying we haven’t heard but a peep out of the Denver Nuggets or general manager Tim Connelly about any free agent signings.
So far, we’ve only got a tweet saying Mike Miller talked to the Nuggets, but that they were one of five times he talked to. We haven’t heard the Nuggets brought up in nearly any other free agent conversation, and it looks like the team’s management wants to ride their big draft day right into the regular season.
To be fair, the team already has 15 players after making the trade to get two first-round draft picks. The Nuggets got two rookies they want on the roster NOW in Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic, and by giving up only Evan Fournier in the Arron Afflalo trade it looks like they found the 15-man roster they’re going to use next season.
Next season Tim Connelly will finally get to see what this roster is currently made of. He had to sit through last year watching big players Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee, Nate Robinson, and J.J. Hickson all go down to season-ending injuries.
Even with the health problems, the Nuggets won’t add any big name free agents this summer. Owner/COO Josh Kroenke has already told the press he wants to see what his coach Brian Shaw can do with a roster that, when healthy, won 57 games two years ago.
“I’ll be disappointed if we stay healthy and we’re not in the playoffs next year,” Kroenke told the Denver Post in May. “This roster, we’re always open for business and we’re always looking to improve our team, but sometimes the best thing you can do is just have continuity.”
If he said that BEFORE the Nuggets got their man in Afflalo, then you know he’s happy he got the defensive improvement the team was missing after Andre Iguodala left. Now that he’s got Afflalo, a proven player to fit in the system, it’s hard to believe the Nuggets pull the trigger on any free agent.
The Nuggets are simply hoping their draft day bomb will carry them forward, and they’re banking on their depth of three capable players at each position to drive success. The national media may overlook this team, but they are definitely expected to make the playoffs (and hopefully some noise in the playoffs) in Denver.
At the very least, their newest shooting guard seems to love the roster.
“I believe this is a championship team,” Afflalo told Nuggets.com. “It’s hard for the causal fan to fathom that because you don’t see big-market stars. Basketball is a team game. Good players win you games.”
I know the Nuggets aren’t going to win a championship next year (please, please, please let me be wrong). I also know the team isn’t going to sign any free agents this offseason.
However, adding Gallinari, McGee, Robinson, Hickson, and Afflalo to a scrappy team that was only 10 games below .500 last season will have more impact than any free agent within the Nuggets grasp would have had.