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New look Nuggets hope to shine in Denver

New look Nuggets hope to shine in Denver

The Denver Nuggets shook things up this summer, adding new faces that they think can elevate them past the first round of the playoffs this upcoming season. With the additions of forward Andre Igoudala and center JaVale McGee, the return of speedy guard Ty Lawson and the outside threat of froward Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets should be one of the mostathleticand explosive teams in the league.

Iguodala came over to Denver from Philadelphia as part of that four-team trade that ultimately got all-star center Dwight Howard to go fromOrlandoto the Los Angeles Lakers.Igoudala, considered one of the best perimeterdefendersin the NBA, is coming off an Olympic gold medal-winning summer for the United States men's basketball team. The 6'-6" swing guard averaged 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists for Philadelphia lastseasonas the Sixers advanced to the second round of the eastern conference playoffs. Denver brass envision Igoudala attacking on the wing and thriving in the team's wide-open fast break style.

Former Wizards center McGee, who came over to Denver in a trade at the deadline last February, was re-signed by the Nuggets to a huge 4-year, 44-million deal. That's a bigcontractfor a player who has proved little except flashes of potential and immaturity in his first four seasons in the NBA.

There's no question that McGee has tremendous potential. He's an incrediblyathletic7-footer with theabilityto have games like the one in which he scored 21 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked 2 shots in a playoff win over the Lakers. But McGee followed that game up with just 2 points, so consistency continues to be an issue for the 24-year-old.

McGee averaged 11 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks a game for both D.C. and Denver last season. The Nuggets think McGee can reach his potential by continuing to improve his low-post moves and just maturing as a player and becoming more consistent.McGee worked with Hall-of-Famer Hakeem Olajuwon this summer to improve his footwork and offensive moves on the block.

Denver said goodbye to Al Harrington and Aaron Afflalo as part of the deal to get Iguodala and amnestied power forward Chris Anderson. The Nuggets retained back-up point guard Andre Miller, who was a free agent, signing him to a two-year, 14.6-million deal. Denver also added power forward Anthony Randolph, from Minnesota, with a two-year deal.

The Nuggets took French guard Evan Fornier with the 20th pick in the NBA Draft and believe he will provide depth at the guard position. With Fornier in the fold, the Nuggets did not retain Rudy Fernandez, who returned to Spain.

Denver has always played an up-tempo style under George Karl but it can take it up another gear with the new additions for the 2012-13 season. While the Nuggets likely won't be an NBA title contender, they will be a threat to anyone they face when they make the playoffs.

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Wizards were reportedly unwilling to trade Bradley Beal in potential Jimmy Butler deal

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Wizards were reportedly unwilling to trade Bradley Beal in potential Jimmy Butler deal

A sluggish start and a handful of woefully inefficient defensive efforts had the Wizards looking for answers early into the 2018-19 NBA season.

But making a major trade was not something the Washington front office was willing to do. As the Jimmy Butler saga reached its climax in Minneapolis, the Timberwolves reportedly attempted to strike of a conversation with the Wizards regarding Bradley Beal.

The details, reported by Marc Stein in his latest New York Times newsletter (via ProBasketballTalk), are minimal, but it sounds like the Wizards quickly brushed the discussion aside as Beal has remained off-limits in their eyes.

Word is the Wolves did try to engage Washington — another team falling well short of expectations — in trade talks for the sharpshooting guard Bradley Beal. But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start. They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts. 

Otto Porter, like many of his teammates, started the season in the wrong direction. But trading Porter is a tricky situation, one the Wizards organization probably doesn't want to pursue given the contract he was signed to just over a year ago. Trying to trade John Wall would be even more difficult.

Ultimately, the Timberwolves dealt Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Wizards rattled off weekend wins over ht eHeat and Magic, and while not equal to making a blockbuster trade, it does show that the Wizards can make an internal fix to what ails them. 

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Otto Porter Jr., Ian Mahinmi react to new reality under Scott Brooks where minutes aren't guaranteed

Otto Porter Jr., Ian Mahinmi react to new reality under Scott Brooks where minutes aren't guaranteed

Through his first two seasons in Washington, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks was not known to make significant adjustments to his lineup. In his first season coaching the Wizards, 2016-17, he didn't really need to. They had the best season for the franchise, 49-33, since the 1970s.

Last year, the tweaks he made were largely by necessity. John Wall missed 41 games and he had to adjust.

What Brooks has been doing in recent games with his Wizards' rotation are something we haven't really seen before. First, he benched Ian Mahinmi for three games. Then, he sat Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr. in the fourth quarter. 

Morris returned to play fourth quarter minutes on Monday in their win against the Magic, but Porter remained on the bench, sitting in the last seat on the end with a towel over his head, rising periodically to clap and cheer on his teammates.

Such is life for the Wizards right now. They are off to a 4-9 start, well below their standards, and Brooks is doing whatever he can to right the ship. So far, those decisions have paid off, as they have won two straight games for the first time this season.

"We weren't winning, so I had to make some changes," Brooks said.

Brooks, it appears, has reached a new point in his tenure with the Wizards. He is willing to sit key players in his rotation, and ones that happen to make a good deal of money. Porter is the highest-paid player on the team, carrying a salary of $26 million and Mahinmi is not far behind at $15.9 million.

As Brooks insists, it isn't quite as simple as him deciding to bench a player. It has much to do with the flow of the game and how he simply has more options at his disposal this year.

Instead of Morris and Porter, he has rolled with Austin Rivers and Jeff Green in the fourth quarter. Both Rivers and Green weren't on the team last season.

Rivers gives them more speed in a three-guard lineup and plays physical defense on the perimeter. Green has been shooting lights-out and is one of their most versatile players on both ends of the floor.

The added depth on the Wizards' roster has set in a new reality for Brooks. The players are beginning to understand that.

"We do have depth. That's the thing," Porter said. "We have so many good players that are interchangeable. We're just finding ways to win."

"It is definitely evolving into something different that I haven't seen before," Mahinmi said. "I remember a few years back, it was a defined first unit and second unit. If the second unit was going, he would let them run and let it ride. With this roster, we have even more flexibility than last year."

Porter played just 22 minutes against the Magic. He has been held to under 24 minutes in three straight games. The lack of playing time has crushed his numbers. He has just 21 total points in those three outings.

Mahinmi is averaging only 14.1 minutes per game this season, his fewest since 2010-11. And that number is skewed by the fact he started six games to begin the year with Dwight Howard nursing an injury.

The evolving rotation has required an adjustment for the players. Though it doesn't change how they prepare for games, they now understand that surprises can happen.

"He's made a whole lot of change from a game-to-game basis. I'm with [everyone else]. I'm seeing it has it goes," Mahinmi said. "[It's like] 'I guess I'm not playing tonight.' Just stay ready. That's part of being a professional."

Mahinmi says he and other players aren't owed an explanation from Brooks when he makes those changes. And he is quick to say it doesn't bother him.

"As long as we win, I'm happy," he said.

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