DENVER (CBS4) – You don’t hear general managers in the NBA say things like their team “isn’t a contender,” even if it’s true.
But that’s exactly what Nuggets General Manager Masai Ujiri says about the squad that will likely be representing Denver in the playoffs this year, barring a major slump in the second half of the season.
The Nuggets are 36-22 (a .621 winning percentage) and have only lost three games at home. That’s the fifth best record in the Western Conference. Their road record, though, is 12-19.
After the Nuggets opted against making any trades before the deadline last week, Ujiri made this comment, which definitely raised some eyebrows:
“We’re not a contending team, and I think we also need to be patient as a team and as an organization to grow a little bit.”
During his appearance on the CBS4 show Xfinity Monday Live this week, Ujiri praised his core group of young players, but he didn’t totally take back his comment.
“Maybe people read it differently, or took it differently, but I was commenting as a ‘contending team’ in terms of trades you make, you know,” he said. “I didn’t think that we are there yet to pull that trigger, or get that player that makes you one.”
Ujiri says the hope is certainly that Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and others continue to improve under Coach George Karl’s tutelage, and don’t get him wrong — he and the whole organization want to win it all, and do that as soon as possible.
But, he said, “We need to allow these guys to grow, and it’s patience.”
“Are we going out there and compete with those guys, are we going to go out and play them? I think we’ve shown it. These guys are not going to back down for anybody,” Ujiri said.
The Denver Nuggets, 2013 edition, may not be a “contending team,” but they certainly are a high-flying, exciting team. Just ask the Los Angeles Lakers, who got scorched at the Pepsi Center on Monday night.
Watch more of the video with Ujiri in the Xfinity Monday Live! section.