Mar 1, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw reacts during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Nuggets fired Head Coach Brian Shaw on Tuesday after less than two full seasons on the job. I’ve never been a fan of Shaw and am not sorry to see him go but it’s not all his fault, not by a long shot. Shaw made his share of mistakes but he got no help from the front office, and was undercut by the players.
The act of simply hiring a new head coach won’t change a thing. The changes have to start at the top and work their way down and by the top, I mean the very top.
Owner Josh Kroenke has to hire some real basketball people, not friends, and let them do their job. Kroenke by his own admission is a basketball junkie and obviously thinks he can run a franchise. I have no doubt in his desire to bring a winner to Denver but involving himself in basketball operations is not the way to do it.
The Nuggets and Kroenke also need to hire a real General Manager, one who knows how to run a team. Tim Connelly is a good guy and by all accounts, a great scout but he is in way over his head as an executive. Connelly does not understand the salary cap and seemingly has no idea how to put together a roster.
Maybe Shaw could have done a better job managing situations off the court but he had one arm tied behind his back on the floor. The roster is filled with duplicates at multiple positions and the so called best players would be role players on any other team.
More disturbing than the lack of talent is the type of individuals on the roster and that also falls on Connelly.
Then there’s the players, themselves. They should all be ashamed of themselves, every last one of them. I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed a more immature bunch of players in pro sports. Ty Lawson is supposed to be the leader of the team on the floor but he can’t be bothered with going to practice because he’s too busy partying in Las Vegas following the All-Star break.
A couple of weeks ago the story broke that Shaw had to take cell phones away from the players so they would pay attention in meetings. I’ve been around high school teams that know not to bring their cell phones to a meeting, and these are professionals. Shaw can be blamed for some things but the players obviously quit on him and that’s not on Shaw.
The Nuggets are so dysfunctional right now that it’s not going to matter who the next coach is if they don’t fix the front office first. The question is how do they do that? I’m not the first to bring this up and I won’t be the last, but Kroenke’s first phone call should be to Chauncey Billups. Billups is a hometown hero who grew up here and played for the Nuggets a couple of different times.
I don’t know what his role would be but he needs to be a part of the organization going forward. The fan base, at this point, is not even mad. They flat don’t care and that’s far worse because it means they’ve lost faith. The hiring of Billups in a substantial capacity would go a long way in getting some of those fans back.
Does that mean Billups should be the next head coach, I don’t know but he needs to be involved in basketball operations at a very high level.
Connelly should not be permitted to make one more decision regarding anything to do with basketball. He’s proven he has no idea what it takes to run an NBA team and Kroenke must swallow his pride, and bring in someone who does.
The Nuggets are a critical point and the next move will either start the healing process or it will send them deeper into the abyss.
It’s up to you Mr. Kroenke, if you really care about the Nuggets then you will hire someone who truly knows how to run an NBA team and get out of the way.