February 22, 2009 1:35 PM
A look at the Nuggets' draft-pick scenarios
By Chris Tomasson
Rocky Mountain News
The Nuggets are keeping an eye on the NBA standings.
Not just because of playoff seeding, but because of draft position.
There are three key situations that will impact where the Nuggets will pick in the June draft. Here's some analysis on each:
--As a result of last month's trade with Oklahoma City, the Nuggets will send their first-round pick to the Thunder if it's No. 21 or lower. Considering that pick is now in line to be No. 25, it's highly likely to be shipped. That's not a problem for the Nuggets. With the salary cap and luxury-tax threshold likely to go down, they wouldn't mind not having a first-round pick this season since that pick gets at least two guaranteed contract years. And, besides, it's expected to be a weak draft.
--As a result of the above trade, the Nuggets get Oklahoma City's second-round pick. At the time the deal was made, it was in line to be the first pick of the second round. But, slightly to Denver's chagrin, the Thunder has been playing much better lately. Oklahoma City is now tied for the NBA's second-worst record. The Nuggets obviously want the Thunder to lose as much as possible. One advantage of that pick is it likely would be for a minimum salary and the Nuggets wouldn't have to fully guarantee the contract.
--As a result of a trade last summer, the Nuggets get a future Charlotte first-round pick. The Nuggets get that pick next summer only if Charlotte makes the playoffs. The Nuggets are rooting hard for the Bobcats, who are 3 ½ games out of the No. 8 spot in the East, not to make it. If Charlotte continues to miss the playoffs, it could be the draft's No. 1 selection in 2014. Another reason the Nuggets don't want that pick in June is because of the salary cap and luxury-tax threshold going down. They're not in the mood now to have extra money plopped on next season's cap.