Things were simpler then.
Now, not so much.
The Nuggets have been riddled by rumors since they let George Karl go following a 57-win campaign in 2012-13. And while they showed some improvement under interim head coach Melvin Hunt to close out 2014-15, their status has not changed. They’re caught in this weird limbo between rebuilding and being able to try and win games now without actually winning them. And, according to Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried aren’t happy about it:
The Denver Nuggets will face a tumultuous offseason. Not only do they need to find a head coach for the future, they have to mend rifts within their own locker room. After several seasons of ups and downs, confidence in the direction of the organization is waning among the team’s two cornerstone players – point guard Ty Lawson and forward Kenneth Faried. …
Sources close to the process say Lawson and Faried have kept no secret of their discontent and unless the Nuggets can pull off something major on the coaching front or make a significant trade, both have indicated they’d rather see a trade instead of sticking around for a long rebuild.
Both players should prove moveable in the event Denver decides to jump ship, though it’s unclear what kind of package either could net.
Faried is super energetic and knows how to grab rebounds, but he doesn’t play defense or block shots at all, and his jump shot remains a work in progress. Toss in the roughly $50 million he’s owed over the next four years, and he’s a financial detriment the Nuggets may have to dump with a pot sweetener.
Knowing that, they could try trading him in conjunction with Lawson, who is a steal at his salary and has wandered in and out of the rumor mill for the last year. That he apparently wants out is no surprise. That’s been the prevailing thought for a while.
Shit, Lawson even has a new team picked out:
From my understanding Lawson has eyes for the Mavs and its mutual. We'll see what Denver does. https://t.co/1ZFEwFaU92
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) May 25, 2015
Morally, I’m obligated to tell you a Dallas Mavericks-Nuggets swap isn’t happening. The Mavs have absolutely nothing to offer for Lawson. They could dangle Monta Ellis in a sign and trade, but a 29-year-old shooting guard doesn’t make sense for a rebuilding outfit. Not even if that outfit ends up being coached by Mike D’Antoni.
Expect the Sacramento Kings to eventually get involved in this gossip party. Karl worked well with both Faried and Lawson, and he may try to pry one, if not both, out of Denver.
But even the Kings are light on assets. Beyond that, a ton of teams will be in a holding pattern as they prepare for the salary-cap explosion. They’re not going to assume big-money deals that cut into their cap space for 2016 and 2017. So while there’s a chance the Nuggets move one or both of Lawson and Faried, it’s equally likely they stand pat and try to work this rift out internally, if only because they will have no other choice.