Sick of losing
Nuggets' Van Exel remains firm in trade demandPosted: Monday December 10, 2001 7:35 PM
After Saturday night's 109-99 loss in Cleveland -- the Nuggets' fourth straight loss on an Eastern road swing and their eighth loss in nine games -- Van Exel announced that he wants out of Denver.
Following a day off on Sunday, Van Exel returned to the practice court and refused to back away from his statements.
"I made those comments after the game, and my decision is pretty much still the same," Van Exel said Monday. "You can't be happy with losing, you can't be satisfied with losing."
Van Exel said his situation could change when Antonio McDyess returns from a knee injury or if the Nuggets (7-13) bring in another player to bolster the roster. But he said that in his four seasons with the Nuggets, they haven't made any acquisitions to make the team better.
"Four years, and we haven't brought anybody in here," he said. "Steady losing -- it's very tough, very frustrating."
The 30-year-old Van Exel said he will continue to play hard in the meantime.
Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe, who met with Van Exel on Monday, said he has no plans to trade the point guard, who is the Nuggets' leading scorer and the seventh-leading scorer in the NBA with a 25.1 average.
"My first inclination is not to trade him," Vandeweghe said. "Nick is a great player. Nick really wants to win. He's very competitive. He comes to play every night. The spectacular things he can do on the court, you don't find players like that all the time.
"If you look back over the history of the NBA, all great players at one point wanted to be traded. They have a drive to win, and they get frustrated."
Vandeweghe described his half-hour meeting with Van Exel before Monday's workout as 'very positive. I told him, "Let's keep talking, let's keep the lines of communication open." I told him we want to keep him. I told him we've made a lot of positive changes here, and the guys are playing with a lot of positive energy."
Head coach Dan Issel said he hasn't spoken with Van Exel about the trade demand.
"He hasn't told me that he wants to be traded," Issel said. "When he tells me he wants to be traded, then I will talk to him."
Before the 1999-00 season, Issel signed Van Exel to a seven-year contract that could be worth as much as $77 million. The first five years are fully guaranteed and worth $50.5 million. He will earn about $10.1 million this season.
At the time, Van Exel said he felt a sense of loyalty to Issel and the organization for providing him with such long-term security.
Asked Monday if he feels he is betraying that commitment, Van Exel said, "It's not about betraying anybody. I love playing basketball. I'm not happy with all this money and losing."
Three weeks ago, Van Exel informed Vandeweghe of his desire to be traded, and also conveyed that message to his teammates. He went public with his demand over the weekend.
"All the guys knew about it weeks ago," he said. "Just because I say that doesn't mean I'm not going to keep playing for my teammates. I've still been playing hard. I've been playing injured. I'm not the first person to ask for a trade, and I won't be the last."