Today's Q&A is a special treat because it is with Jeremy from the newest SBNation NBA blog, Pickaxe and Roll. If you ever need any Nuggets about the Denver basketball team, Pickaxe and Roll is the place to go. Check out the film room. Really cool. As always, you can head over there to see my brilliant answers to his questions.
ClipperSteve: The Nuggets have the third highest payroll in the NBA and are currently sitting in 9th place in the wild, wild west, a half game behind Golden State. What happens if they miss the playoffs this season? How long is Kroenke going to carry that payroll?
Jeremy: That is one of the big questions surrounding this team. Even if the Nuggets do make the playoffs and flame out in the first round, which I what I expect to happen, I cannot see anyone justifying to owner Stan Kronke that the payroll should be maintained at that level for another season. This is a veteran team and any hope that they will suddenly start clicking after spending more time together is foolhardy.
This offseason should be very interesting in Denver. There is a chance that Allen Iverson will opt out of the final year of his contract. If he does, the Nuggets could work a sign and trade to reduce payroll. If he does not opt out, his $20 million expiring contract could be used in a trade to potentially cut some payroll.
If they cannot cut payroll by dealing AI, their options become more limited. I do not see the Nuggets trading Melo. I doubt they could trade Kenyon Martin as he is widely viewed as having one of the worst contracts in basketball due to his health concerns. There may be some interest in Nene if he can come back and prove he is healthy by the end of the season, but he will be difficult to trade as well. That leaves Marcus Camby as the only other player who has a decent sized contract and is tradeable.
My preference would be to trade Iverson. He is an amazing talent and a great player, but his style just is not congruent with running any kind of flowing offense. When he came here he talked about how this is Carmelo's team and he wanted to fit in, but his game has not changed at all from the way he played at Philadelphia.
This team was supposed to be a contender this season. With all of the talk about injuries, they have enjoyed remarkably healthy seasons from Camby and AI. If they fail to go deep in the playoffs, let alone miss the playoffs altogether, there is no way to justify keeping this team together next season.
ClipperSteve: Even if they make the playoffs, they'll be matched against a monster in the playoffs. Can this team get out of the first round against any of their likely opponents? (I'm not trying to be mean - this is the reality of life in the Western Conference, where the Clippers only WISH they were healthy enough to get bounced in the first round.)
Jeremy: As I mentioned in the answer to question number one, I do not see the Nuggets getting past the first round of the playoffs. March is the most difficult portion of the Nuggets schedule and I cannot see them climbing any higher than seventh. That means a first round matchup with the Lakers, Phoenix or San Antonio. The Lakers easily swept the season series from Denver and all three games were completed before the Gasol trade. Denver has proven that they cannot get past San Antonio and Phoenix has struggled since the trade for Shaq, but I do not see the Nuggets defeating them either.
Denver may have a shot if they end up facing New Orleans, but the Hornets took the season series from the Nuggets 2-1. The two games in Denver were very close, but the game in New Orleans was a blowout. To be fair, Denver did not have Carmelo in that game, but the way the Hornets played, I do not think he would have made much of a difference.
Even with the huge payroll and a full season to attempt to integrate AI into the offense, it does not look like the end of this season will prove to be any different from the previous four. I fear another first round exit awaits the Nuggets.
ClipperSteve: I LOVE the Pickaxe and Roll Film Room feature! That's great work. I would do that sort of thing on ClipsNation, but I'm pretty sure I'm (a) too lazy and (b) too stupid. How long do you spend on a typical film room session?
Jeremy: Thanks for the plug for my Nuggets Film Room. I spend a great deal of time on those videos and you may have noticed that I have not posted a new one for a couple of weeks due to a lack of free time to work on them.
I am sure most people who read the process I follow would laugh at how inefficient it is, but here is how I do it. I try to record the games onto a DVD as I watch them, but recently I have not been able to watch many of their games live. Because of that I have to record the games to a DVD as I rewatch them off the DVR on my dish receiver. I try to take notes as I watch on certain plays I want to feature. Then I have to burn those plays from the DVD to my laptop. Once I do that I piece the clips together on Windows Movie Maker and then add my comments. Recently I tried adding some funny clips from different movies, but that only makes the process more time consuming and most of the funny movies I own are on VHS tapes and I have yet to find a way to burn a VHS tape to my computer.
From start to finish it take a couple of hours to record the game onto the DVD, then it takes probably another couple of hours to locate the clips and burn them on my laptop. From there it is another half an hour or so to piece the clips together and then a half hour to an hour for the narration. A typical set of clips will take at least six hours for me to produce and sometimes longer.
I know that there are easier ways to do this type of thing, but my budget (or lack thereof) prevents me from getting any software to speed up the process.
It is something I enjoy doing though and now that my son's basketball season is over, which is not a good thing, I should have more time to spend on putting together some more clips.
ClipperSteve: The rumor mill had the Nuggets pursuing Ron Artest, but they ended up with Taureen Green. Are you disappointed that they didn't try a bigger move? I thought a Sam Cassell / George Karl reunion made a lot of sense for you guys as well.
Jeremy: I was disappointed the Nuggets did not pull off a more significant deal. Anyone who spent any time watching this team realizes that they are not going anywhere in the playoffs as currently constructed. Acquiring a Ron Artest would certainly have been a huge risk, but it also could have breathed some fresh life into the franchise.
Artest would have helped the Nuggets on the defense end, but he would have been another player who wants isos run for him on the wing. As their offense lacks movement as it is, it is possible any benefit the Nuggets received from Artest on defense would have been negated on offense.
My personal desire was for the Nuggets to acquire Mike Miller. He would have been a great addition to the Nuggets. He would have been the consistent shooter they have been missing, but he can also put the ball on the floor, pass and rebound.
I was less enthused about Sam Cassell as I thought he would have been another player who needed the ball in his hands, but Anthony Carter has really been struggling lately and Cassell could have come in and provided better point guard play.
Ultimately, what may have been best for the Nuggets might have been working a trade for Delonte West or Cassell to replace the struggling Carter.
What is clear is the Nuggets players did not handle the trade deadline very well. They were very flat as they dropped their first three games following the deadline including bad losses to Chicago and Milwaukee.
I think it was a difficult time for the players because on one hand you have Carmelo out there saying he wanted a deal to be made. Well, that means that he was just fine with Eduardo Najera and probably Linas Kleiza getting shipped out. He may not have realized that is how his teammates would receive his comments, but for all intents and purposes to them, that is exactly what he was saying.
As a result Kleiza played rather poorly in the week or two before the deadline and that continued for the week after the deadline.
I think now the players have settled down a little and put all of that behind them, but as I mentioned earlier they are approaching their toughest stretch in the schedule and are not playing their best ball.
It would appear that everything is pointing to another disappointing season for Nuggets fans.
Thanks Jeremy. Great stuff. And for what it's worth, 6 hours for one of those sessions doesn't strike me as excessively long. It looks like a fair amount of work - and the best tools aren't going to take the thought process out of it. If it means anything to you, I think your hard work is evident in the final product. Well played sir.