Friendly readers, I decided to take a few of the e-mails I received over the past 10 days and do a mini-mailbag. These e-mails are real and so are the corresponding names. Please write me at CallItMileHigh@gmail.com to be included in the next “Mile High Mailbag.” Feel free to be as rude or considerate as you’d like. Thanks!
How do you feel about the Chris Andersen contract? Also, trading for an undersized power forward is NOT what the Nuggets need. They would still have the gaping problem of Nene being their only 1v1 big man defender. Birdman plays hard, but he is best coming from an off ball spot. While Martin is awesome and physical, he is slightly undersized. A lanky PF is more of the same!
I like the Andersen re-signing, but I’m somewhat worried about the length of the contract the Nuggets gave him. A backloaded 5-year deal means the Birdman, who is currently 31 years old, will be pulling in full MLE money by the time he is 35-36 years old. The Birdman relies on his explosive hops to be an effective player, and NBA big men usually lose some of their bounce during their mid-30s. He could be a fairly “weathered” veteran during the last couple years of his contract.
You’re right about the type of defense Birdman plays. He is a great off-ball, help defender because his energy and athleticism allow him to swoop in for blocks and rebounds. Yet, his post defense leaves something to be desired. He has trouble boxing out larger, stronger post players, but the Nuggets often leave this dirty work to Martin and Nene. Also, the lack of a fourth big man occasionally hinders Birdman’s performance. If Martin racks up early fouls, Birdman must play less aggressively to avoid fouling out while playing extended minutes. As a result, his effectiveness wanes. A fourth big man would give Birdman and the rest of the frontcourt more foul protection.
The biggest problem with Birdman is not his defense, but rather his offense.
Therefore, the Nuggets really need a big man who can space the floor and/or open up the lane at the offensive end. They need someone who is tough and complements Birdman and Martin’s defensive strengths. It would be an added bonus if this big man is capable of playing above average defense. In a perfect world, the Nuggets would acquire 7’1” Marc Gasol, so they could move Nene to PF and play a huge lineup. Gasol however is not coming to the Nuggets anytime soon…unless Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace decides to gift-wrap another Gasol and ship him out West.
As I’ve said in my recent columns, the Nuggets should try to get a gritty yet offensively productive swingman (i.e. Matt Barnes) and go after the largest, most offensively capable big man they can acquire. Now that Rasheed Wallace and Channing Frye are off the table, it will be interesting to see who the Nuggets pursue to fill this void. If the team truly wants to contend, I don’t think they can stick to the cheap approach they took last offseason. They cannot bank on signing the next Birdman. The front office needs to use one of the team’s Traded Player Exceptions to acquire an offensively potent big man, who is taller than 6’9″. Marvin Williams is an interesting sign and trade option, but I think he is slightly undersized and would not come cheaply. The Nuggets can’t go wrong as long as they acquire useful size this summer (Note: Drew Gooden is NOT useful size). Please, no more Steven Hunters…or Drew Goodens.
Note: I now can’t stop fantasizing about Marc Gasol playing for the Nuggets. I’m salivating. He and Nene would light up the post. They’d eat Pau and Bynum for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and fourth meal. Baby Gasol becomes a free agent in two summers when Martin’s deal finally expires and clears $16.5 million in cap space. Imagine if the Nuggets use this money to re-sign JR Smith, who should be a stud by the year 2011, and acquire Gasol. A starting lineup of Gasol, Nene, Melo, JR, and Chauncey with a (hopefully) talented Ty Lawson coming off the bench. Wow. Dare to dream, Denver. Dare to dream.
All of Denver’s mid-twenties bar patrons know that Jay Cutler’s flip cup game is more lacking than his chin. Kyle Orton has got to be an improvement in this area, but I’m not sure he drinks. How did the recent QB turmoil change Denver’s nightlife?
– Dave, Denver.
Jay Cutler is good at drinking, but he is not good at drinking games. You’re right, he is an atrocious flip cup player. Flip cup requires a certain amount of “touch” that he never displayed in Denver. Maybe it was the altitude. Or perhaps he was so jacked up on insulin shots that he couldn’t steady his hands enough to consistently flip his cup end over end. I suppose we’ll never know. For the record, I’ve heard that Jay is even worse at beer pong. His stroke with a ping-pong ball is less accurate than his throwing arm from inside the red zone.
I too have wondered how the QB change will affect LoDo’s nightlife. But the fact of the matter is that Cutler didn’t party downtown all that much. He chose to frequent University of Denver bars, which was odd considering he was the state’s most high-profile athlete. I bet he was just self-conscious about his chin (or lack thereof), so he concentrated on star-struck coeds.
I’ll admit that I was less than ecstatic when the Broncos acquired Kyle Orton. Orton appears more boring than Cutler in pretty much every way. Whenever I watched the Bears play, I thought to myself, “Man, I’d be so bummed if Kyle Orton quarterbacked the Broncos. (Yawn) Is there a more plain QB in the NFL? And what the hell is up with that beard? Is he trying to look like a homeless Keanu Reeves?
Orton is no gunslinger and he sometimes looks more like a haggard drifter than a playboy QB. But I sold him short. I’m sorry, Kyle. Upon further inspection, you actually seem like a pretty fun dude. Ladies and gents, there’s a new “Old Number 7” in town…
It is so fitting that Orton was a Boilermaker in college at Purdue. In the immortal words of Kenny Powers, this guy is down to rage on the reg. I see him throwing 4 to 6 more touchdowns this season (assuming BMarsh is in the lineup), raising his completion percentage by 5 points, and dieseling at least 10 handles of Jack Daniels in the process. Only one question remains: how much of that whiskey will actually make its way into Orton’s mouth?
See, Kyle is a big fan of the scream chug, causing him to spill inordinate amounts of booze down the front of his shirt. That is unless he’s removed his shirt, which is a move he has been known to pull from time to time (so college, bro!). In fact, he probably grows that patchy wolfman beard to absorb spilt libations. I’m thrilled Kyle’s beard might actually have a purpose. To think, I spent all those years assuming he grew it to look like a mid-90s Keanu, a farmer, or a train bum. Very unfair of me.
Frankly, I’m excited to see Orton in action and you should be, too. McDaniels’s system will likely improve his onfield performance, and we all know that a beer shotguns faster at 5,280 feet. Welcome to Denver, Kyle!
Come on, basketball players don’t live on Wash Park. Step it up.
– Chris, Denver.
Last week I said that Channing Frye’s bulldogs would look good in Wash Park. Unfortunately, Frye will walk his bulldogs in the desert sun next season. Chris, you make an astute observation. No Nuggets players live on the park. But what if they did? I wish more of Denver’s athletes lived within the city limits. Too many of these guys seclude themselves in Parker and Cherry Hills. It would be so great to see JR Smith and Adam Foote strolling around the pond, Kenyon Martin and DJ Williams playing bocce ball, or Champ teaching Tulo how to do a back flip in the grass. What about a celebrity athlete softball league? I could see McDaniels getting extremely excited and competitive about this. Ryan Clady would definitely lead the league in home runs. Sorry, Brad Hawpe. Once again, dare to dream, Denver.
Denver needs a real big man. I love Nene and God bless him, but he’s not the type of big man that leads a team to titles. Think about those that do: Shaq, KG, Duncan, and Gasol. Nene? Not there yet. If the Nugs want to win, they either bet that he grows into that dominating role (a big bet) or they go get someone else. He can’t smile his way into starting forever.
– Brian, New York.
Nene is pretty damn good, Brian. He had an incredible ’08-’09 campaign. The Thrill from Brazil played inspired basketball and was a remarkably efficient offensive and defensive center last year. In fact, I’d say that Nene was a top-5 center in the league last season. There is no way the Nuggets would have contended without Nene manning the middle. Comparing him to Shaq, KG, and Duncan in their primes is not fair. Those are three of the best big men to ever play the game. Nene is growing into a complete player, and the 26-year-old has an enormous upside. I see him averaging 20 pts and 8 rebs once the Nuggets if he avoids injuries, continues to work hard, and the front office acquires another big man.
Nene is better than Andrew Bynum, and has the potential to be as effective a player as Pau Gasol. He really does. Yes, Nene and Gasol possess very different skill sets, but I think Nene could help his team as much as Gasol does if the Nuggets can add one more big man this summer. The Nuggets simply did not have the frontcourt depth last season for Nene to break out against the Lakers. Gasol and Bynum were able to smother him in the post because he was the Nuggets’ only offensive option down low. If the Nuggets had another offensively competent big man, I think Nene would have thrown down 20 points every game against the Lakers.
Also, Nene is one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. He is thankful for all of his talents and gives new meaning to the term “team player.” Seeing Nene smile puts me at ease. I hope he has a sister, and I really hope she flashes the same toothy grin. I’d try to marry her for her smile even if she is a foot taller than me.
Should Denver natives/fans take offense to the “fake” mile high club resulting from airplane trysts? I think so.
– William, Denver.
I’m going to disagree. No offense taken here. But I think the Nuggets need to devise some way of marketing the term “Mile High Club.” Maybe Kroenke could put a “Mile High Club” inside the Pepsi Center? As long as the Club raised enough revenue to acquire a legit scoring big man (or Marc Gasol in 2 years!) without significantly raising ticket prices, I could deal with the moral ramifications of having an onsite gentleman’s club at home games. Put the Club on the ground level and connect it directly to the Tuaca Chill Zone with an escalator. Boom, cash cow! Now go sign some players.
Denver is a city known for its great weather, proximity to the mountains, outdoor sports, crunchy yuppies, and fit, attractive citizens who all have fit, attractive dogs. Now you’re telling me Denver has great (as in the top 5 cities) sports fans also. Horse(expletive). You can’t have it all Denver, you just can’t. It’s just not fair.
– Sleepless in Seattle.
The Mile High City is pretty great. Seattle sports fans have endured a rough few years. I’m truly sorry you lost the Supersonics. That was robbery and you have every right to be livid. And it’s too bad the Mariners are not what they used to be. And it’s a bummer it rains all the time. Jim Mora will probably wreck the Seahawks, too. Look on the bright side (is there a “bright side” of that city?), you guys have chic modern stadiums, so you’ll be comfortable attending games if your teams ever get good again. Griffey’s back, too. Since you lost the Sonics, check out some of the local middle school and junior high leagues. I hear they are budding with young talent since Shawn Kemp lived in the area for the better part of a decade. Seriously, just move to Denver and the rest will take care of itself. Bison burgers are way better than king salmon anyway.
You’re an idiot. Your website sucks and so do the Avalanche.
Thanks for your bold, encouraging words, RJ. Very creative and inspiring. It’s funny because I can track your IP address using Google Analytics and you clicked on each of my columns, logging over 20 minutes on my POS website. Also, I think you’re located in Canada. Have fun living in the apartment above the bar that we’re all partying excessively loudly at. The Avs will be back, just you wait and see. Memo to Matt Duchene: keep shooting those pucks in your backyard while wearing a fly mask (go 5:40 into the clip), it builds character…and make sure you’re really good really soon. Oh technology.