Word broke Wednesday afternoon that Michael Malone had signed a contract extension.
For a large part of last season, Michael Malone was considered a borderline “hot seat” coach. Locally, he was derided and criticized, something Broncos coach Vance Joseph is currently embroiled in.
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Malone will surely endure his share of sideways glances should the Nuggets not come out of the gates strong. It’s the nature of the job, fair or not.
What is fair is the reported two-year extension Malone signed to remain the Nuggets head coach for the next three seasons. There had been uncomfortable rumblings about Malone’s contract status, not that the Denver brass was unhappy with the coach but that there had been no news on an extension.
Not an ultimatum, by any means but certainly not an endorsement, either. It speaks to the expectations that everyone from the City of Denver to the end of the Nuggets bench has for this year’s team. Make no mistake, the Nuggets and Malone have been given a huge pass by team ownership. Missing the playoffs by just one game in each of the last two seasons is the cold-water reality to the feel-good win improvement numbers.
What’s been lost in the fervor over the playoffs is the job Malone has done with the construction of this roster. The roster that has us so amped up for the season is largely Malone’s achievement. From the Jusuf Nurkic/Jokic decision to sticking with Gary Harris at two, identifying Will Barton’s versatility, recognizing Jamal Murray‘s talent and going with him over Emmanuel Mudiay and Jameer Nelson.
Michael Malone’s stamp is all over this young Nuggets team but the time of feeling good about incremental improvement has passed. It’s no longer a matter of making the playoffs, Denver needs to make some noise in the playoffs. Translated, Denver needs to win in the playoffs.
We here in Denver believe that’s a foregone conclusion but what do they think around the NBA landscape: