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Denver Nuggets Chat: Talking Michael Malone, Pete D'Alessandro and 2015 NBA Draft rumors

Kalen Deremo Avatar
June 17, 2015

 

In the second installment of BSN’s ongoing Denver Nuggets Chat series Harrison Wind and I react to the Nuggets hiring Michael Malone. We also talk about his previously rocky relationship with Pete D’Alessandro in Sacramento and in the end get into who the Nuggets should select if they moved up higher in the draft. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts on these various issues in the comments section below.

Kalen: OK, first thing’s first. What’s your initial impression of Michael Malone?

Harrison: Malone came off both confident but also conscious about the rebuilding task at hand. He seems like he had a concrete plan and formula of how to turn this organization around. Malone, Tim Connelly and Josh Kroenke talked like they are all on the same page with what their vision is for this team in the future. They all threw out buzzwords like “efficiency” and “running with discipline” and made it seem like they had a real vision in mind. Malone also seemed conscious of the struggles the Nuggets have had over the past two years and that there is sure to be a lot of turnover on this roster.

Kalen: It’s tricky because pretty much everyone looks good in press conferences. It’s hard not to. I remember Shaw looked great. I’m sure Isiah Thomas kills it. But really, you don’t know anything until the ball drops. From the surface, however, I really like the importance Malone put on having winners on his team, guys who hate losing more than anything, guys who will work hard and play defense. That’s really all that matters to fans.

So yeah, I’d say I’m pretty impressed and optimistic about Malone. Do you feel the same?

Harrison: I wasn’t happy about the hire at first and would have rather had either Melvin Hunt or Mike D’Antoni, but I’m coming around to the idea that Malone might be a good fit. From everything I’ve read and from everyone I’ve talked to about him, it’s all positive. Writers who covered him are convinced he really knows what he’s talking about; players he’s coached love him, respect him and would go to battle for him; plus he’s a workhorse who lives, eats and sleep basketball. Malone is also a a big X’s and O’s guy which is crucial because it will teach these young players how to play the right way. But I think Malone’s real value will be how he will change the culture of this organization.

Kalen: Totally agree. I guess I was a bit skeptical at first, but only because I didn’t know much about him and what transpired in Sacramento kind of scared me. But you’re right. All his former players love him, including DeMarcus Cousins who was pretty much considered a coach killer prior to Malone. He’s also been endorsed my media, LeBron James (as you pointed out to me), other coaches — pretty much everyone loves him. But again, everyone loved Shaw as well.

Speaking of Sacramento, have you listened to the Cowbell Kingdom podcast about D’Alessandro?

Harrison: I haven’t. But it was funny and a bit weird having D’Alessandro and Malone in the same room a the press conference today with their history.

Kalen: So weird. I think everyone should listen to it if they get a chance. Basically those guys talk about the unadulterated insanity that is the Kings’ front office, especially under D’Alessandro. I’ve only listened to half of it but I’ve read rumors that D’Alessandro and Malone almost got in a fistfight. And of course there’s rumors D’Alessandro was the one who wanted Malone gone more than anybody. So to me, although I have no idea what really happened, it sounds as though D’Alessandro and Malone had a pretty rocky relationship, to say the least. But I guess they’ve patched things up now? Either way, it doesn’t surprise me at all that the Nuggets went out and signed these two guys who reportedly hated each other. In fact, I wouldn’t expect anything else from the Nuggets at this point.

Harrison: From everything I’ve read and what the Nuggets have put out, it sounds like D’Alessandro will essentially serve as the “cap guy” for the Nuggets — something they desperately needed after the Kenneth Faried contract fiasco last year. That means they would definitely have quite a bit of interaction with one another. Their quick interaction at the press conference where Malone remarked, “position-less NBA, right Pete?” and nodded to his former colleague in Sacramento was weird, but I don’t really know what to take from it. Hopefully they have hashed out their differences

Kalen: Yeah, it seems like they have. But I still can’t get over how weird the whole thing is. To me, the Nuggets — led by Josh Kroenke — are like that friend, partner, husband, wife, whatever, who just can’t take a hint. I thought it was so funny when someone in the press conference had to ask who made the Malone hire and Kroenke got pretty short with him, saying all decisions are ultimately his. That’s essentially the Nuggets in a nutshell. You either have to say something point blank to them or they just won’t get it.

Harrison: I mean, it definitely isn’t the way things should be. Josh paints himself as a basketball guy and is the final decision maker, which again isn’t how things should be done. Connelly should be making all the final calls about basketball stuff. The order of operations still seems out of whack.

Kalen: Right, we agree on that. My whole point is, somebody has to ask those types of questions. And of course Kiszla is often the guy a lot of fans consider the court jester but who’s about the only guy willing to stand up and ask the tough stuff. I applaud him for that. That’s the stuff we need to know.

Moving on, someone asked me on Twitter today if Lawson stays since Malone had such a good record with Cousins. Do you see that happening? Or is Lawson already good as gone?

Harrison: I think Lawson is gone. It’s a combination of his off-the-court issues and the fact he’s been dangled out there in so many trade rumors. He probably just doesn’t want to be here anymore. It’s time to part ways and move in another direction. I think this roster is in fact due for a couple major shakeups. I went back and watched Malone’s Sacramento Kings introductory press conference and it was similar to the Nuggets’ presser. One thing he was sure to do was identify himself as a defensive coach and I believe the first thing Kroenke said today was that they were going to get back to the defensive efficiency they had in 2008-09 when they ranked eighth in the league. Lawson is likely gone and I think Kenneth Faried might be right behind him, mostly because I can’t see Malone putting up with his defensive deficiencies.

Kalen: Makes sense, and I agree. I think Lawson’s burned too many bridges. Although I think Faried might stick around, possibly as a backup. It sounded like Malone really loved his energy and enthusiasm and I think Faried would like to play for a coach like Malone who equals him in those departments.

Lastly, ESPN.com’s Chad Ford is reporting the Nuggets are trying to move up in the draft. It’s also been reported the Kings might fancy Ty Lawson. Let’s just say the Nuggets trade Lawson for the sixth pick in the draft. Assuming D’Angelo Russell, Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor are off the board, who do the Nuggets take with those two picks?

Harrison: Yeah, Malone was gushing about Faried, but it’s too early to tell if this is the right system for him to flourish in. Wow, that would be something. I would still take the two best players available. I got a lot of questions on Twitter if the Malone hiring affected the Nuggets thinking in the draft and it shouldn’t. I would be happy with Justise Winslow and Mario Hezonja. I would be thrilled with Winslow and Devin Booker. It would be really hard to mess that up.

Kalen: Yeah, I just think it makes sense. Karl seems to have a lot of influence in the Kings decision-making process and we all know he loves Lawson. Plus, the Kings are desperate for talent right now. They need to win in order to keep Cousins happy and adding Lawson to a core of Cousins and Rudy Gay would certainly help in that regard.

In terms of who the Nuggets would take, I think it’d have to be Mudiay and Winslow. If they could land those two guys, holy cow. The Nuggets would totally jumpstart their rebuilding process and look to contend for a playoff spot within one to two years.

Harrison: If Mudiay fell, you couldn’t pass him up. That would be huge.

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