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#pounditSaturday, October 1, 2022

Articles tagged: Denver Nuggets

Nuggets hiring notable former player in reunion

Nikola Jokic in a nuggets sweater

Apr 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets are giving off some 2005 energy this week.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Wednesday that the Nuggets have hired former NBA guard Andre Miller to be the head coach of their G League team, the Grand Rapids Gold. Miller replaces another ex-NBA guard, Jason Terry, who left to join the Utah Jazz organization earlier this offseason.

The 46-year-old Miller, played 17 seasons in the league. Six of those seasons came with the Nuggets (from 2003 to 2006 and again from 2011 to 2014). Denver made the playoffs every year that Miller was on the team (excluding Miller’s final season with them in 2013-14 where the Nuggets traded him in the middle of the year).

Miller retired in 2016 and ranks 11th all-time in NBA career assists. Though he once blew up on a Nuggets coach while he was in Denver, Miller has now become a Nuggets coach himself (though for their G League affiliate).

1 Nuggets player poised for major breakout next season?

Michael Malone smiling

Feb 5, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone reacts during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The hype may be intensifying for Denver Nuggets fans beyond just the expected returns of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.

Denver guard Bones Hyland recently spoke to The Denver Post and revealed that the Nuggets organization is preparing him to have a big role next year. Hyland was told to expect far more playing time after Denver traded away Will Barton and Monte Morris earlier this offseason.

“I knew what the move was [trading those guys],” said Hyland. “They were already contacting me before and letting me know what was happening.

“After the moves even happened, the coaches called me, players called me, like, ‘Time to just go out there and be Bizzy [Hyland’s nickname]. It’s a big opportunity for you,'” he went on. “And they tell me every day, like, ‘You’re going to have a big role, big opportunity, a lot more minutes, just to just go out there and be yourself.’”

The 21-year-old Hyland was a surprise dynamo for the Nuggets as a rookie last year. He made 69 appearances, posting 10.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game with innovative shot-making and offensive craftiness. While Denver also acquired Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the same trade, the departures of Barton and Morris will create a lot more chances for Hyland as a scorer and ball-handler in the backcourt.

NBA players often take major leaps in their sophomore seasons (as we saw last year even with non-lottery picks like Cole Anthony, Tyrese Maxey, and Desmond Bane). For Hyland, a former 26th overall pick who already knows how to irritate opponents, he could be the next addition to that list.

1 NBA team reportedly slated for rare Christmas Day game

Adam Silver speaking

Feb 15, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a press conference during NBA All Star Saturday Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

One less-heralded NBA franchise will be hearing sleigh bells again this year.

Mike Singer of the Denver Post reported on Sunday that the Denver Nuggets are slated to host the Phoenix Suns on Christmas Day, according to an initial draft of the 2022-23 schedule.

Though the Nuggets claim the services of back-to-back reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, they were notably omitted from the Christmas Day schedule last season. Denver also rarely plays on Christmas in general, making just three Christmas Day appearances over the last decade and only seven in total since joining the NBA from the ABA in 1976.

A Nuggets-Suns matchup would serve as a rematch of their meeting in the 2021 Western Conference Semifinals (a series that had serious fireworks). But it will be just one of many NBA grudge matches to look forward to on Christmas this year.

New Nuggets player gains unusual distinction with trade

Ish Smith in warmups

Apr 10, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Washington Wizards guard Ish Smith (4) during pregame warm ups Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

One NBA player sure has collected a lot of stamps on his passport.

On Wednesday, veteran guard Ish Smith was traded by the Washington Wizards to the Denver Nuggets along with teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In exchange, the Wizards received Monte Morris and Will Barton.

Veteran NBA writer Marc Stein noted that, with the trade, Smith now sets the record for the most traveled player in NBA history. The Nuggets are poised to become Smith’s 13th NBA team.

Smith began his career in 2010 and has now been with (hold onto your hats) Houston, Memphis, Golden State, Orlando, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Detroit, Washington, Charlotte, and Denver. Additionally, Smith has managed multiple stints in both Philadelphia and Washington.

Soon to turn 34, Smith averaged 8.6 points and 5.2 assists per game last season for the Wizards. While he probably isn’t a fan of all the moving vans he has had to use, there is something to be said about Smith’s longevity in the league as a quality backup point guard for a wide variety of teams. At least Smith’s journey hasn’t been quite as big of a whirlwind as this fellow NBA guard’s.

Report: Ex-Timberwolves coach lands new job

Ryan Saunders looks ahead

Feb 28, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA;Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders looks on against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Saunders appears to be back in the league.

The former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach is being added to the Denver Nuggets’ coaching staff, according to Shams Charania.

Saunders was in attendance at Denver’s training camp last year, which may have helped his chances of eventually joining the team.

Saunders is the son of the late Flip Saunders, who died in 2015 at the age of 60. Ryan, 36, coached the Timberwolves for parts of three seasons from 2018-2021. The team went 43-94 (.314) under him.

The Nuggets have a spot open on their coaching staff that was vacated when Jordi Fernandez left for an associate head coach role with the Sacramento Kings.

Nikola Jokic preparing to sign massive deal

Nikola Jokic in a nuggets sweater

Apr 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets may be in the midst of a front office overhaul, but that hasn’t swayed two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic.

Although the man who drafted him, Tim Connelly, is headed to Minnesota, Jokic remains committed to the Nuggets. And the 27-year-old intends to show that by signing a five-year, $260 million supermax extension when it’s offered.

That offer is expected to come in July and then kick in following the 2022-2023 season. For now, Jokic will play out the remaining one year and $32 million on his current contract.

Jokic had previously made it clear that he intended to remain with Denver, but this latest news solidifies it.

“I would like it, of course, but it’s not something that I’m deciding,” Jokic said last month, via NBC Sports. “I think of course if it’s offered — if (the) offer is on the table — of course I’m going to accept it because I really like the organization and really like the people who work here.

“I’m (have a) really good relationship with people who work here, and a good relationship with everybody from the owner to, let’s say, the equipment manager. I think we have something that we’re building. It actually feels really good.”

Once Jokic signs his extension, Denver’s brand new front office will turn their attention to building a more competitive team around him.

Nuggets coach had great quote about facing Warriors

Michael Malone smiling

Feb 5, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone reacts during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors have dealt with a revolving door of players all season, leading some to believe they’ll have to “learn on the fly” during the NBA Playoffs. But don’t tell that to Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone because he isn’t buying it.

Asked by a reporter about Golden State potentially lacking a rapport, Malone shot back and shut down the notion immediately.

“Learning on the fly, my [expletive],” Malone said, via Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “Those guys have a lot of experience together. So sell that iceberg to somebody else.”

The Nuggets and Warriors have squared off multiple times in the playoffs over the past decade, so Malone knows a little something about their chemistry. And as it turns out, he was spot on anyway.

Golden State smoked Denver in Game 1, walking away with a dominating 123-107 victory.

“It’s a scary sight when we really get going,” Klay Thompson said, via ESPN. “This is really only our first time really playing together.”

Things went from “learn on the fly” to “scary sight” real fast. Now it’s up to Malone and the Nuggets to adjust on the fly or risk heading home much earlier than they desired.

Denver Nuggets send message about Nikola Jokic MVP case

Nikola Jokic in a nuggets sweater

The NBA MVP award is becoming a two-player race between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, and the Denver Nuggets are doing their best to send a message about the award.

The Nuggets on Thursday shared a tweet about the MVP race. They responded to a tweet that noted Jokic was the first player in NBA history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists. Their comment said “Sorry, these stats are way too advanced. We don’t understand.”

What’s the story? Some detractors say that Jokic only looks good in the advanced stats metrics. So the Nuggets were pointing out that Jokic also has some impressive traditional stats as well, considering points, rebounds and assists are as traditional as it gets.

No matter how you slice it, Jokic is a very deserving pick for NBA MVP. Embiid is too. Your choice comes down to how you weigh each of the players and their contributions, plus some possible personal preference.

Jokic is averaging 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks per game this season. His Nuggets entered Saturday 6th in the West.

Photo: Apr 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Nuggets player tried to get into Suns’ locker room after game

Chris Paul in his Suns uniform

It took just one game of Chris Paul being back for the Phoenix Suns for an opponent to want to square up.

TJ McBride of Mile High Sports reported on Friday that Denver Nuggets forward Jeff Green tried to get into the Suns’ locker room after Thursday’s game between the two teams. After the final buzzer, Green reportedly ran down the hallway past the Nuggets’ locker room and continued towards the Suns’ locker room. Nuggets players and staff prevented Green from further escalating the situation though, and only words were ultimately exchanged.

You can read McBride’s full account of the incident here.

The report adds that Green was upset about an incident with the Suns guard Paul during the contest, which Phoenix won 140-130. Paul, who was briefly teammates with Green on the LA Clippers in 2016, stopped in front of Green as they were going back in transition in the third quarter. Green, who wasn’t looking, bumped into Paul. It was a classic Paul bait move, and Green got a technical foul during the next stoppage after exchanging words with Paul.

The Nuggets and the Suns have some history. Phoenix won two of their three matchups this season after sweeping Denver in the second round of the playoffs last season. That playoff series saw tempers flare between the two teams, most notably in a heated incident involving stars Nikola Jokic and Devin Booker.

As for Paul, his irritant tactics, which are non-basketball plays at best and cheap shots at worst, have annoyed many opponents over the years. Green may have to get in line behind the long list of players who want to fight Paul.

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports

Clippers forward still salty about team’s collapse to Denver in bubble

Marcus Morris at a press conference

Marcus Morris must not know who Idina Menzel is because he still won’t let it go.

The LA Clippers forward spoke with ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk for a feature this week on the team and their journey. In the feature, Morris made some salty comments about the Clippers’ collapse to the Denver Nuggets in the Orlando bubble two seasons ago.

“We only lost that s— because we were in the bubble,” he said of the Denver series. “[If] we weren’t in the bubble, we’d beat the s— out of them. Put that on the record. … Guys are out of their comfort zone. Kudos to Denver.”

The Clippers, who were heavily-favored in that 2020 second-round playoff series, went up on the Nuggets 3-1 but dropped the next three consecutive games in a stunning meltdown. It was the only fully healthy season that the team has gotten thus far in the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George era.

The Orlando bubble was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime set of circumstances that some NBA teams were built for and other teams weren’t. The Clippers definitely fell in the latter category, and one of their stars even admitted to dealing with depression in the bubble. Granted, the Clippers still deserved some criticism after going up 3-1 on Denver and having double-digit leads in Games 5, 6, and 7 but blowing every single one of them.

The bubble disaster actually ended up working in the Clippers’ favor. They fired head coach Doc Rivers and replaced him with Tyronn Lue, who has been a major part of their success ever since. The Clippers also parted with veterans Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Patrick Beverley to focus on younger and more versatile players such as Norman Powell, Terance Mann, Ivica Zubac, and Amir Coffey. Now instead of folding in the face of adversity, the Clippers made the conference finals for the first time ever last year and now sit a surprising eighth in the West this year despite all their stars being sidelined for the majority of the season.

As for Morris’ bubble comments, he will now get a chance to make good on his claim. The Clippers will face those very same Nuggets on Tuesday night.

Photo: Feb 17, 2020; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks former player Marcus Morris speaks to media at his jersey retiring press conference before the game against the Iowa State Cyclones at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports