34. Sergio Llull, PG, Spain
Having already acquired Ty Lawson earlier in the draft, it didn't make a whole lot of sense for Denver to keep Llull which is why they sold his rights to Houston. But with all the talent on the board at 34, why not try to find a role player off the bench to help the Nuggets win now? (Pick Grade: Don't Get It)
2009 NBA Offseason Transactions:
Nuggets sign SF Joey Graham
Nuggets acquire G James White from Rockets for G Axel Hervelle
Nuggets re-sign C Johan Petro
Nuggets re-sign PG Anthony Carter
Greek Team signs SF Linas Kleiza
Nuggets acquire PF Malik Allen from Bucks for PF Walter Sharpe and SG Sonny Weems
Nuggets acqure PF Walter Sharpe, SG Arron Afflalo and cash from Pistons for 2nd-round pick
Pacers sign SG Dahntay Jones
Nuggets re-sign C Chris Andersen
Rockets acquire PG Sergio Llull from Nuggets for cash
Nuggets acquire PG Ty Lawson from Timberwolves for a 2010 first-rounder
2008-09 Season Summary:
The Nuggets have to be happy with their 2008-09 season. They started the year with a volatile roster that was more likely to become the first team to ever fight each other on the court than come together and succeed. The obvious turning point of the season came less than a week in when the Nuggets traded Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups (and some other pieces). After Chauncey took his spot on the roster the Nuggets gained some instant chemistry and floor leadership as they ran to a 54-win season and the second-best record in the Western Conference. They parlayed that second seed into a bid into the Western Conference Finals where the Nuggets were realistically just a notch or two below the Lakers.
2009-10 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Nene Hilario/Chris Andersen/Johan Petro
PF: Kenyon Martin/Renaldo Balkman/Malik Allen
SF: Carmelo Anthony/Linas Kleiza*/James White/Joey Graham
SG: J.R. Smith/Arron Afflalo
PG: Chauncey Billups/Anthony Carter/Ty Lawson
NBA Free Agents:
PG Jason Hart (UFA)
2009-10 Team Salary: Approximately $63.2 million
2009-10 Expected League Salary Cap: $57.3 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. A Second "At Will" Scorer - The Nuggets succeeded in the regular season because Carmelo Anthony didn't HAVE to score 30 every night to keep Denver in the game. They played good defense and found a solid scoring balance that was too much for the majority of NBA teams to handle. In the play-offs, opposing teams (namely, the Lakers) decided to shut down Melo and play up on Chauncey so that he couldn't get good looks from the perimeter and the Nuggets struggled to find an offensive identity. If opposing teams recognize that they can make Melo and Billups disappear without any fear of anyone else stepping up the Nuggets are going to have a tough time repeating last season's success.
2. A Back-Up Energy Source - With Chauncey's back-up eligible for free agency, the Nuggets need to find a player that will be able to spell Billups while keeping the energy of the team high. The Nuggets were no longer a one dimensional team after the Iverson-Billups trade but they still needed someone to keep the team on an even keel when Chauncey was on the bench. Anthony Carter was able to do that to an extent, but the Nuggets would like to bring someone younger in to fill that role and keep Chauncey fresh.
3. A Glue Guy - I don't mean to steal one of Jay Bilas' favorite terms but the Nuggets were really lacking a player that could step in and play hard minutes, play antagonizing defense and mesh well with whatever lineup was on the floor. The Lakers had Trevor Ariza in that role and the Nuggets saw first hand how crucial he was in helping Los Angeles advance to the NBA finals. If the Nuggets had a similar player on their roster to do the same type of things, they could be in the NBA finals instead.