DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried, who came on really strong at the end of last season, says he hopes to take on more of a leadership role on the team next year, but now he’s focused on playing for Team USA.
Because of Faried’s excellent play last year he was rumored to be traded, but it didn’t happen. He said it weighed heavily on him at the time. He’s got a year left on his contract but said he isn’t thinking about that right now.
“Honestly, for a contract, I’m not really big on that right now. I’m more focused on trying to make USA team, trying to basically reach some goals that I wanted to do since I was a little boy. Put on that red, white and blue is all I really care about right now,” Faried said on Xfinity Monday Live! “Everything else will figure itself out.”
CBS4’s Vic Lombardi asked Faried if in the long term he wanted to stay a Denver Nugget.
“Long term, I just want to play, honestly. If I’m a Nugget for the rest of my life, I’m ecstatic about that,” he said. “If I go somewhere else, I’m still ecstatic, as long as I’m playing basketball. I love this game.”
As a rookie head coach, Brian Shaw came in and tried to have the team play a little more half court. Then he let go of the reins and let the players be themselves. It’s not clear how he will approach it next season, but Faried said he’ll go with whatever helps the team win.
“I think he’s going to be more open to certain things with us, especially me coming back from USA basketball. I think I’m going to have a little bit more of a leadership role because of the fact that I’ve been around guys that are leaders and saw how they work,” Faried said. “They push each other to make each other better.”
Shaw has said all along that he needs a big veteran presence in the locker room. Enter Arron Afflalo, who is coming back for his second stint with the Nuggets after a stellar season in Orlando.
“He can score, Arron can score now, and just watching how Arron played in Orlando and how he basically was the leader for that team. It was just amazing to see how he’s matured, and now he’s back and he’s a different person,” Faried said. “He was telling me how I’m after it, we’re going to come in here, we’re trying to become a playoff team again and make a push in the playoffs and get out of the first round. That’s the biggest deal with us.”
Faried said he hasn’t had a chance to play with rookie guard Gary Harris, but he likes what he sees.
“I’ve met him, but I haven’t played with or against him,” he said. “But (I’ve seen) his summer league play … he can score the ball.”
It’s going to be hard for Harris to get playing time, but Faried says anything is possible.
“If you’re willing to put in the work, the hours, the time and just continue to be enthusiastic and put in that extra oomph that coach wants to see from you, he’s going to find a place for you to play.”
– By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com
Watch more of the video with Kenneth Faried in the Xfinity Monday Live! section.