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NBA AM: Kenneth Faried: “There are 29 other teams”

Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried doesn’t like the idea of a smaller role, but is there an answer for the Nuggets that doesn’t involve dumping him?

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Can’t Make Everyone Happy

The challenge in rebuilding any NBA team is the eventuality of duplication. As so many NBA teams have embarked on a rebuild through the draft, there is an inevitability that drafting the best available player is going to yield drafting players at similar positions. Then, when you roll free agency into the mix, some young teams find themselves with logjams all over the place, and the Denver Nuggets may be one of the teams seeing this problem manifest itself in the wrong way.

Nuggets head coach Mike Malone coyly revealed his planned starters for the season, announcing to media yesterday that Nikola Jokic would start at Center, Wilson Chandler would start at Small Forward, Garry Harris would start at Shooting Guard and that newly signed All-Star Paul Millsap would start at Power Forward. Malone said the point guard position would have to resolve itself in training camp.

The news that Millsap would start at Power Forward shouldn’t have been surprising. Especially when you consider the Nuggets paid him some $90 million over three years to join the team.

However, long-time Nugget Kenneth Faried didn’t take the news very well, proclaiming in no uncertain terms that he felt he was a starter and that the Nuggets had better be ready to play him starters minutes.

“I’ll just put it out there for everybody. I’m not a bench player. I’ve been saying that for the longest. I’m a starter,” Faried said to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. “I love to hear the crowd (when introduced as), ‘Starting at power forward, No. 35, Kenneth Faried.’ Yes, that’s me. One hundred percent, that’s been my whole life. And I’m going to fight for a starting position. I’m just not going to lay down and let somebody take it.”

Faried has been a name in NBA trade circles almost since the day he signed his four-year $50 million extension. It was compounded this summer when the Nuggets inked Millsap. Howeve,r much to the Nuggets chagrin, Faried has very little trade value in July and may have even less now that he’s on the soapbox about his role.

“There are 29 other teams,” said Faried. “If this team doesn’t want, or respect me enough, to play me the minutes that I think I deserve to play, then I understand that. Hey, there’s 29 others. Maybe I’ll go somewhere else and do what I need to do there. But at the same token, I’m here in Denver, and I want to play Manimal basketball, no matter what, every time I step on that court.”

The challenge the Nuggets face isn’t unique to them. The Suns and Magic face similar quandaries on players they have either signed as free agents or drafted high in the draft, only to see those players plateau out into slightly above average players.

While Faried has made his displeasure clear on his role, fellow Nuggets Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay and Jameer Nelson face a similar situation at point guard.

The smart money says Murray wins out based on how he is developing as a player. The question becomes does Nelson win the backup job after winning the starting job away from both young guys a year ago? If Malone, is serious about winning games, Mudiay could be the odd man out. Like Faried, Mudiay has been mentioned as a trade candidate a number of times over the last year.

It’s not as if the Nuggets don’t like any of these players; they are just dealing with the inevitability of duplication when you run through the NBA draft so many times.

The Nuggets have tried aggressively to double up on big-name players in trade, but given what’s on the roster today it seems no matter the good intentions, there are just only so many minutes to go around, and that’s not lost on the Nuggets head coach either.

“I can’t play everybody,” said Malone.

There is a bitter truth in those words, that even the most well intentioned front offices can get backed into a corner that’s hard to get out of without a fire sale or roster dump, and it seems the Nuggets may be on the clock.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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