August 27, 2010
There are certain NBA franchises that just never seen to put it all together. No matter who they add, no matter how hard they try, no matter what they do something is always just a little off. These aren't always bad teams, like the Clippers, they're just teams that are barely wrong. The Timberwolves of the early 2000s fit the bill, as do the Bulls from the same time period. But most relevant to today's discussion are the Denver Nuggets, who — outside of a glorious 2008-09 run — always seem to have something that derails their season. Whether it be injuries, a reluctance to defend in the playoffs or just the wrong combination of players, the Nuggets are just always a little bit out of sync. But they usually wait until the playoffs to self-destruct. This year, they're getting started early.
While the Nuggets have had their hands full with the firing of two front office executives, Carmelo Anthony's(notes) rumored trade demands that have somehow intensified, the hiring of a new GM and an injury to Nene, things are going to get even rockier in Denver. That there is a mountain pun, and this here is the thing that's going to make things worse for the Nuggets. From FanHouse's Sam Amick:
Denver Nuggets shooting guard J.R. Smith(notes) was involved in an altercation at the team's practice facility on Aug. 13, when police arrived after a player not associated with the Nuggets claimed to have been attacked by the mercurial 24-year-old.
After numerous sources told FanHouse of the incident, the Denver Police Department confirmed it on Wednesday afternoon.
"We did have a report of an altercation that took place at the Denver Nuggets' practice facility," Detective John White of the Denver Police Department told FanHouse by phone. "That case was investigated and ultimately presented to the district attorney's office. ... Ultimately, the district attorney's office, after being presented with the findings by the Denver Police Department, decided not to pursue charges.
"We were called to that location about an incident possibly involving Mr. Smith. When we got there, the officers conducted their investigation. It did involve Mr. Smith."
According to White, the player -- who sources said lives in the Denver area and played previously with the now defunct Colorado 14ers of the NBA D-League -- is "not a member of the National Basketball Association."
According to a league source who spoke with one of the people in the gym, numerous players were taking part in drills when members of the Nuggets' coaching staff told the player who later called police to be physical with Smith.
"They were just wanting the guy to be physical with J.R., telling the other guys, 'Hey, body up on the guys and really make them work,'" the source said. "J.R. just lost it. He tried to choke the kid, and the kid called the cops."
That's from Wednesday night and if you think the story ends there, you're obviously not familiar with the concept of building tension or things getting worse before they get better.
Police are investigating an alleged altercation between Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith and another person at the team's practice facility. [...]
The district attorney previously declined to pursue the complaint against Smith, but the investigation has been reopened because another witness came forward, Jackson said.
"We just want to evaluate it," [Denver police spokesman Sonny] Jackson said of the new information.
Oh, good. Police are just evaluating J.R. Smith trying to choke another player. That should go pretty well. And that's without considering the penalty from the league, which has a little bit of familiarity with cases involving players choking people during practice. I'm guessing his trade value is pretty low right now. Like belly-of-a-snake low.
All in all, great first couple of days for new Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri. Not only does he have to deal with the dreaded list of approved trade partners that Carmelo Anthony's agents provided the team, he also gets to try to figure out how to trade a player who choked a D-Leaguer, and if that player will even be eligible to play this year. This is a Southwest Airlines commercial waiting to happen.