The Denver Nuggets have learned it’s always about the money

In one week, the Denver Nuggets successfully blew up their franchise. What was once a clear image of the franchise’s bright future is now an unfinished puzzle that is missing a few major pieces.

There are three keys every NBA franchise needs to sell tickets: a proven General Manager, a winning Head Coach and a game changing role-player. The Nuggets may become the first NBA franchise to lose all three of those keys in seven days.

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Team USA's Andre Iguodala in London. Courtesy: Flicker
Team USA’s Andre Iguodala in London. Iguodala is currently a free agent in the NBA. Courtesy: Flicker

Key loss No. 1: Masai Ujiri, General Manager

Ujiri was the toughest personnel loss the Nuggets have suffered in over a decade. Yes, even more significant than losing Carmelo Anthony in 2011. As the GM, Ujiri built one of the best teams in the NBA by trading the best pure-scorer in the sport (that being Melo). Ujiri revitalized the city’s hope in the franchise by molding one of the most exciting teams in the NBA completely through blockbuster trades.

Despite his work, Ujiri left Denver as one of the lowest paid GM’s in the NBA — $500 thousand a year.  One day later, he was signed by the Toronto Raptors, where he is now one of the richest GM’s in the history of the league — $3 million a year.

Key loss No. 2: George Karl, Head Coach

One of the most publicized losses the Nuggets suffered (behind Melo) was George Karl.  After nine seasons as Head Coach, Karl emerged as one of the most respected and victorious coaches in NBA history.  After very public battles off the court with cancer, Karl still managed to deal with enormous egos on the court like Allen Iverson, JR Smith, and Carmelo Anthony.

Karl’s dismissal seemed appropriate at the end of the 2011-2012 season. He only led the Nuggets outside of the first round one time in eight seasons. However, after winning NBA Coach of the Year this month, his dismissal came as a surprise to many. Karl now stands as one of the hottest names up-for-grabs in an offseason of many coaching vacancies.

Key loss No. 3: Andre Iguodala, game changing role-player

As the only superstar the Nuggets held on their roster, “Iggy” was a splendid upgrade from Arron Afflalo. Fresh from an offseason full of collecting gold at the London Summer Olympics, Iggy played one season with the Nuggets — a season full of some of the best defending Denver has seen out of a shooting guard in a decade.

Iguodala is no longer a member of the Denver Nuggets. However, we cannot label him a complete loss. Days after Karl and Ujiri were released, Iggy decided to end his $16 million contract with Denver in hope of signing a long-term lucrative deal that will stuff his wallet awhile longer. It will take a solid front office staff and plenty of cash to bring him back for next season.

So, who should the loyal Nuggets’ fans blame for all of this mess? The answer is simple: owner Stan Kroenke and the Kroenke family.

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Nuggets’ fans are devoting themselves to one of the cheapest franchisees in the NBA.  The Kroenke’s have shown Denver why they are partial owners of super-chain Wal-Mart.  They are all about providing satisfactory product to their community at the cheapest rate possible.

If Stan Kroenke would open his wallet a little wider, Denver could have headed into next season as one of the strongest teams in the NBA.

Content producer Dillon Thomas can be reached at news@collegian.com.