KISZLA: IT’S TIME TO TRADE NUGS’ FARIED
After exploring a trade of Kenneth Faried countless times, now general manager Tim Connelly must finally make a deal, before Denver runs the value of a disgruntled, confused player into the ground.
This Manimal thing isn’t working out. Oh, Kenneth Faried and the Nuggets have tried. But what’s the point in staying together when the 27-year-old power forward and the team make each other miserable?
After exploring a trade of Faried countless times, it’s time for general manager Tim Connelly to finally make a deal, before Denver runs the value of a disgruntled, confused player into the ground.
Here’s the definition of irreconcilable differences:
Sitting in a corner Wednesday after practice, arms folded tightly across his chiseled bare chest, Faried stared at me with eyes harder than his stiff upper lip and said: “Whatever helps the team win. If that means I have to sit on the bench the rest of the year, I’m prepared for that. I’m going to stay focused and cheer my teammates on.”
Turning the Manimal into a cheerleader being paid $12 million isn’t the answer. What the Nuggets need to do is turn Faried loose from what the constant melodrama of trade rumors that have dogged him for more than two years. He has been linked to so many NBA destinations, from Los Angeles to New York, the threads of his yanked heartstrings have begun to resemble a route map for Southwest Airlines. Enough already. The Nuggets are a mess. Yes, there’s promising talent on a young roster that teases us all with the hope better days are around the corner. But the pieces don’t fit. The mismatched parts keep falling on Faried, who has every right to feel jerked around in a playing rotation that exhibits little rhyme and zero reason.
“It’s extremely tough,” said Faried, who lost his starting job before the season, then regained it, only to see his minutes evaporate as Denver has stumbled to a 9-16 record.
By all appearances, Faried was made the scapegoat for a justcompleted and often-desultory road trip, during which coach Michael Malone was so angered by his team’s lack of competitive fight he destroyed a chair in response to a 112-92 loss against the Dallas Mavericks.
“Man, if you guys could have seen a hidden camera in the coaches’ locker room in Dallas, you would have thought I was a
raving lunatic,” Malone said. “I’m still sore … physically. But I got it out. There’s a chair in pieces in Dallas. But I wasn’t taking that home to my wife and daughters — or my dog, for that matter.”
During the recent six-game trip in which the Nuggets lacked the energy for which the Manimal is known, here is a city-by-city accounting of Faried’s time on the court. Salt Lake City: 23 minutes. Philadelphia: 13 minutes. Brooklyn: 12 minutes. Washington, D.C.: DNP, coach’s decision. Orlando: 24 minutes. Dallas: 8 minutes.
While insisting he does not blame Faried, it’s obvious Malone has lost a little faith in his sixth-year veteran, which echoes the turbulent relationship between Faried and Malone’s predecessor on the Denver bench, Brian Shaw.
“My greatest challenge right now is, yes, to win games. But, more important, it’s to keep a young, fragile, sensitive team together. That’s really my biggest challenge every single day,” said Malone, who knows it’s impossible to keep 15 players happy with their roles.
It’s not Faried’s fault Denver is a pitiful 3-7 in the Pepsi Center (a.k.a. The House of Lame). Keeping the Manimal around for his crowd appeal, however, no longer makes sense, with the Nuggets’ home attendance currently 29th in a 30-team league.
During recent years, the name of Faried has been linked in trade rumors involving Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Jimmy Butler. The Nuggets have tried to use Faried’s rebounding prowess and reasonable NBA salary as chips in a multiplayer offer for a bona fide NBA star. It hasn’t worked. Faried could help a contender, but he is not Tristan Thompson, the unsung blue-collar worker for the league champs in Cleveland.
Maybe the Nuggets value Faried more than the rest of the NBA does.
Malone has grown increasingly fond of utilizing Wilson Chandler at power forward and seems committed to returning Nikola Jokic to his rightful place as the starting center. Add a desire to get meaningful minutes for Jusuf Nurkic to the recent three-year, $23 million commitment made to Darrell Arthur, and it is no wonder Faried’s spot in the playing rotation has been squeezed.
So maybe here’s the real problem: How does Connelly maximize the return for Faried in trade at a time when the Manimal threatens to become little more than an expensive cheerleader?
First, the Nuggets must decide between making a run at the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and taking one more shot at their luck in the NBA lottery, while developing young players such as point guard Emmanuel Mudiay for 2017 and beyond. The Manimal is stuck in no-man’s land. Set him free.