- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The Nuggets suffered a slap in the face last season when both the Clippers and the Grizzlies--knowing that a late loss would mean they'd face Denver in the playoffs instead of the Mavs--went to great lengths not to win. Then things got more ignominious: The Nuggets fell in the first round to the Clippers (who hadn't won a series since 1976), but not before forward Kenyon Martin was suspended by the team for cursing out coach George Karl during Game 2. "It happened. I can't take it back," says Martin. "We've got no choice but to move on if I'm going to be here."
There was plenty of talk that Martin would be moved, which didn't seem to be a bad idea: The Nuggets were 24--25 with him in the lineup and 19--13 without. But with no market for balky-kneed four men with hefty contracts--he's in the third year of a seven-year, $90 million deal--he stayed put. The 28-year-old Martin, who hasn't been at full strength since microfracture surgery on his left knee after 2004--05, spent the off-season rehabbing and staying off his feet as much as possible.
If Martin and the 6'11" Nen�, who missed all but three minutes of last season with a torn right ACL, stay healthy, they'll give Denver a forceful presence under the basket--and much-needed stability. Last year Karl used 21 starting lineups, which Martin believes contributed to the bad mojo. "We could never get into a rhythm," he says. "It was definitely a down year. Injuries, chemistry, guys not really jelling. You name it, we had it."
Projected Starting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics
Record: 44--38 (T7 in West)
Points scored: 100.3 (5th in NBA)
Points allowed: 100.1 (23rd)
Coach: George Karl
(third season with the Nuggets)