Monday , Aug , 10 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Will Denver stumble without Linas Kleiza and Dahntay Jones?

Last year, the Nuggets’ role players helped the club establish a blue-collar identity, rattle off fifty wins, and compete with the world champion Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Yet, some of those blending parts have changed. Sure, Chris ‘Birdman’ Anderson was given a long-term pact. However, Denver didn’t match Indiana’s paltry offer to physical two-guard Dahntay Jones and Anthony Carter, who can’t agree on term with management, remains unsigned. Today, Kleiza bolted to Greece for Mid Level Exception money …


Will Denver stumble without Linas Kleiza and Dahntay Jones?


Breaking NBA news mixed with analysis …

Their News: Denver Nuggets restricted free-agent forward Linas Kleiza has agreed to a two-year, $12.2 million contract with Greek team Olympiakos, his agent Bill Duffy told Yahoo! Sports on Monday.” (Yahoo Sports)

My Quick Gut Reaction: Could Denver fall off in 2010?

Last year, the Nuggets’ role players helped the club establish a blue-collar identity, rattle off fifty wins, and compete with the world champion Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Yet, some of those blending parts have changed.

Sure, Chris ‘Birdman’ Anderson was given a long-term pact. However, Denver didn’t match Indiana’s paltry offer to physical two-guard Dahntay Jones and Anthony Carter, who can’t agree on term with management, remains unsigned. Today, Kleiza bolted to Greece for Mid Level Exception money.

On the surface, Jones, Carter, and Kleiza seem replaceable. But this trio accepted their roles last year, which, along with the acquisition of Chauncey Billups, created chemistry. For instance, starting Jones allowed Coach George Karl to use J.R. Smith as the sixth-man, a role he’s suited for.

Without Jones, Smith becomes the starter. This is a risk. The young pro is a terrific talent, but has shown poor judgement on-and-off court. Too often, he treats the offense like an all you can shoot smorgasbord and recently drew the ire of the league for allegedly making gang references in his twitter posts.

Starting Jones was Karl’s way of holding Smith accountable. Hopefully, Smith, a promising player and decent enough person, makes the most of the increase in minutes. Kleiza, a solid scorer and long range gunner, would have been an option to replace Smith as the sixth-man.

Denver’s inactivity this summer becomes even more of an issue when compared to Dallas and San Antonio’s activity. After all, ‘Team Cuban’ has added Drew Gooden and Shawn Marion, while the Spurs have landed Richard Jefferson.

After a strong 2009, the Nuggets, because of a disappointing summer, could take a step back next season.

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