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News » Nuggets know what they like Management, coach confident skeptics of team will be wrong

Nuggets know what they like Management, coach confident skeptics of team will be wrong

Nuggets know what they like Management, coach confident skeptics of team will be wrong Skepticism about how good the Nuggets are after last season's trip to the Western Conference finals apparently starts near the top of the NBA.

An survey of league general managers released this month shows that the GMs think San Antonio is the second-best team in the West and that Portland will win the Nuggets' Northwest Division.

But, hey, they did vote the Nuggets the third-most fun team to watch.

From fans to front-office types, the Nuggets' moves this summer were underwhelming. And with several competitors adding big-name talent, most predict the Nuggets will fall down a few steps from their conference finals appearance.

None of those skeptics, however, work at the Pepsi Center.

"I think it's very fair to say that we haven't had a marquee move," Nuggets vice president of Basketball operations Mark Warkentien said. "But I would say last year, (Chris Ander-

sen) and Dahntay (Jones), when we did those deals, those weren't viewed as marquee deals either."

By the end of the season they were, with Andersen spectacular coming off the Denver bench and Jones having earned a starting spot as a defensive specialist. Warkentien said the Nuggets' moves this summer were based on the same strategy, keeping the team largely intact but adding talent through less-publicized moves.

"We traded to get into the draft to get Ty Lawson. I think that's proven to be prudent," Warkentien said. "We traded to get Arron Afflalo, which was all about replacing Dahntay Jones, and we feel good about that. Malik Allen was a swap of rookie parts for a veteran guy. I don't know whether he's the fourth big, fifth big, whatever, but I'd say he's an upgrade from whatever we had at that point last year."

Nuggets coach George Karl believes the team didn't need to improve much from the outside because he believes several current players on the roster can raise their game.

"I don't think adding another strong personality, or a strong person to our team, I think that would put too much pressure on," Karl said. "I think it was an easy challenge to go to (Carmelo Anthony) and to J.R. (Smith) and Nene and say, 'Hey, we think you can be better than you were last year,' challenging them to grow.

"I don't think we were that far from the Lakers. I like continuity, I like consistency. I like a rhythm of being together. It's their challenge to come

together and hopefully play at the level they ended with and build on that as the season goes on."

Warkentien made it clear the Nuggets , who finished 54-28 last season, were not about to rebuild.

"The Chauncey (Billups) thing, that was an overhaul," Warkentien said of the trade that shook up the franchise early last season. "That went pretty good. So now you're looking for more of a tuneup. George felt these guys deserved the right to stick together. And basically George's request was, 'Give me my team back. I'd like to play these cards.' He didn't want to draw four."

Even if other general managers don't think the Nuggets are ready to take the next step, Karl knows other teams think the Nuggets are for real.

"We're a little more of the huntee than the hunter," Karl said. "Teams are going to take us as a big game. Teams are going to take us as a championship-type team.

"We can't be surprised by the intensity that we get hit with early in the season because people have a lot of respect for us."

Chris Dempsey: 303-954-1279 or

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 28, 2009


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