The Denver Nuggets: We suck so bad we can cause two local sports teams to suck.

I used to follow the NBA quite religously in my younger days. I attended a lot of Nuggets games, and memories of Danny Shayes, Michael Adams, Antonio McDyess, LaPhonso Ellis and of course Dikembe Mutumbo still dance in my head (despite my best efforts to repress them). Then three things happened:

a) The Avs came to town
b) Bernie Bickerstaff
c) The NBA became rigged. (Ok I really mean the officiating became so god -awful that it was too frustrating to watch, but recent allegations reveal that my initial statement may not be as far from the truth as people would like to believe).

Essentially Nuggets mismanagement caused me to stop following a team I loved. Not satisfied to kill my love of basketball, apparently they are coming after me as a hockey fan too. From Frei in his latest article:
If the Avalanche ends up significantly under the cap, and the Kroenke Sports hierarchy seems to be suppressing smiles as it eases the sting of the luxury-tax bill from the NBA, hockey-first fans would have every right to make that unsportsmanlike conduct call.
When I wrote my post criticizing the Avs for their frugality a few weeks ago I had heard the rumors of "The Avs have had to cut payroll because the Nuggets are paying the luxury tax". I ignored this rumor, because it was (and is) just that. A rumor. However there has been some new extremely circumstantial evidence that trends in that direction:

The Avs haven't signed anybody of note since then (no McLeod and McCormick aren't of note, neither is Brian Willsie) and are still sitting at a salary cap number of $44M. That is only $4M over the floor (and $12M under the cap) with only Joe Sakic left to sign. Also since that post, Terri Frei gave more credence to the rumor by actually putting it in print. (Here's some food for thought: I initially ignored an internet rumor because I didn't think it was credible, but a respected journalist, and count me among the people who respect him, put it in his print story.) (Crap now I'm fueling the rumor)

But actions speak louder than words, and the most telling sign the Avs ownership is at least concerned with money is the salary dump of Marcus Camby, a Nugget. The ties are still very circumstantial, but there are clear signs that: The Nuggets are concerned about the NBA Luxury Tax and Avs management clearly wants more than a little wiggle room for the Avs. They cut salary.

In all honesty I don't believe the Nuggets situation has anything to do with the Avs summer of thriftiness. If anything they are both a symptom of something else. Maybe Kroenke is on his way to the poor house (not likely). Maybe the economic downturn and weak dollar have him cutting coupons. Or maybe he is taking the time to make his sports franchises a little more accountable in accounting. Who knows. But there is clearly an effort, across his Denver sports empire, to cut costs on players.


  1. I have to agree that something seems to be up. My thought is that the loss of attendance at Avs games has hit the Avs in the wallet and keeping the payroll low is an obvious way to combat that. I've been going to 15-20 games a season for many years now and despite the PR, the attendance has clearly dropped. I recall a game last season on a Monday or Tuesday that was so poorly attended that many of the food stands upstairs did not bother opening.

  2. I didn't realize attendance was really that bad. I knew it was suffering.

    It seems to me though that this is the worst way to combat low attendance. I mean it's pretty easy math that good teams draw more fans. By not spending and having a mediocre team the Avs seem to have resigned themselves to poor attendance.

    Thanks for commenting Delta

  3. You forgot that we also still need to sign Svatos, but I agree. We're pretty cheap this summer.

  4. True we do still need to sign Svats (and he has filed for arbitration so the Avs have little say in how muh he'll make next season).

  5. 1) Don't see the Av's as playing it cheap. IF Theodore had decided to stay in Denver that alone would have increased payroll 2 mil or so.
    2) Add Sakic's possible 6 mil set aside and Svatos 1.5-? and the Avs would be near the 50 mil mark. Not near the max, but probably near the median of NHL payrolls.