Brian Shaw is taking brunt of the blame for the Nuggets getting off to a 2-6 start. It’s part of the territory for a head coach when his team is losing games whether it’s fair or not. He knew the deal when he signed on to coach the Nuggets last year.
He might have brought some time as Nuggets head coach after his team started off well in their three-game road trip with a 108-87 blowout victory over the Pacers last night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That win snaps the Nuggets’ six-game losing streak.
Whether the Nuggets head coach is fired or not, the pressure will be on Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly to make this bad team better. He can only escape blame forever. Quite frankly, it’s shocking no one is on his case for keeping this same roster. It’s a roster that needs finetuning.
It’s understandable why Connelly did not break up the roster last year. He thought he had a winning roster based on the Nuggets making the playoffs without a superstar when he was hired to be the general manager. He thought he had several young cornerstone players to build around in Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried.
Last year was tough to watch. Lawson was often inconsistent and hurt. Gallinari never played last season. Faried came along strong in the end. Still, we learned this team is not good enough to run a half-court offense. They don’t have that difference maker that can win games on his own. It will be a problem until Connelly finds that player via a draft or trade.
Sure, it would have been nice for Connelly to get Kevin Love this summer. But the Nuggets had nothing to offer to the Timberwolves, who had a better deal by receiving Andrew Wiggins (1st pick of the 2014 draft) and Anthony Bennett from the Cavaliers as part of a three-way trade with the Cavaliers and 76ers. It said something about Connelly’s roster that no team wanted any of his players.
Whether or not Love resigned with the Nuggets was not going to change the general manager’s thought process of wanting to acquire him. Connelly knew he had to do something in improving the team.
It never happened for the second-year Nuggets general manager. He didn’t do anything to improve the Nuggets. Trading this year’s 11th pick for the 16th pick and 19th pick was nice, but it wasn’t going to make the difference for this season. It remains to be seen if it ever will. Jusuf Nurkic (16th pick) and Gary Harris (19th pick) should be good role players for the Nuggets, but those guys are guys the team shouldn’t build around.
They need to find that player. It’s Connelly’s job to find one. That’s what he is being paid to do as the Nuggets general manager.
Connelly is going to have a hard time getting someone to play in Denver. Not with this roster. Not with the Nuggets not being a good team.
What he is going to have to do is tear this roster down. That means trading any of his players that results to some sort of value. It also means he is going to have to take a page from 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie and tank to get a high pick.
Tanking is taboo at the Pepsi Center. It’s not what the organization wants.
It is certainly not what Shaw signed up for when he took the job as the Nuggets head coach. He does not want the losses to pile on his resume when he is looking for another coaching job soon. He knows tanking would mean he would be fired as head coach.
Nuggets president Josh Kroenke does not want to create an organizational culture where it’s okay to lose. It’s not one of his mission statements when he was hired to operate the Nuggets.
Connelly does not want it, either since he wants to win, too.
Still, it’s inevitable the Nuggets have to tear this roster apart and tank. They haven’t won with this group. It’s hard to think they will beat elite teams with this roster. Being okay is not good enough in a tough Western Conference. They have to make a move to get better.
The Nuggets are not going to get great players in free agency, and getting a great player through a trade rarely happens. They can get a great player in the draft.
Being in a position to draft high should be the Nuggets’ priority right now. They shouldn’t be in denial about this team’s dim playoff chances. It’s not happening.
Keeping the roster intact is not going to make the Nuggets any better. There’s no growth in this roster. It would be insanity to think it’s going to happen.
Dump the guys and start tanking in the process.
Connelly has no choice but to do it sooner rather than later.
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