NBA AM: Will The Nuggets Stay In The Basement?

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Danilo Gallinari opens up about recent contract extension

The Denver Nuggets are in the midst of a clear rebuild, coming off of back to back sub .500 seasons. Last month the team traded their best player in Ty Lawson to Houston for multiple players that weren’t part of the Rockets’ nightly rotation.

The Lawson deal officially put the stamp on the Nuggets’ desire to go in a different direction as a franchise. As with most teams on the rebound, there are very few pieces on Denver’s roster that are truly untouchable.

But forward Danilo Gallinari is one player that will enter next season with a bit more job security than the rest of his teammates.

Gallinari and the Nuggets agreed to a three-year, $45 million deal earlier this summer in a move that caught the player completely off guard.

“I was very fast in saying yes to this extension,” Gallinari told the Denver Post. “I’m very happy to stay in Denver. This extension came because of the people in Denver, the fact that I’ve been in Denver for a while now and the fact that I love the city.”

The Nuggets reached the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons from 2004-2013 before bottoming out the past two campaigns. With Lawson changing zip codes it would appear on the surface the Nuggets are in for another spring of watching the playoffs from home.

However, despite the Lawson deal, Gallinari has been relatively happy with the direction of the franchise and is excited to play under new head coach Michael Malone.

“I’m very confident in the choices [the front office] made this summer in changing the coach and everything,” Gallinari said. “They are doing everything possible in their capacity to win. And I think that they made the right choices, and hopefully we can start winning again starting this season.”

Gallinari missed the entire 2014 campaign recovering from a torn ACL. In 2015 Gallinari logged 59 games while averaging 12.4 points and 3.7 rebounds on 36 percent shooting from three-point range.

Now the forward feels completely healthy headed into training camp.

“I’ve been working a lot in the gym for my legs and knees,” Gallinari said. “I feel really good. After playing almost the whole season last year, I was very happy to finish in the way that I finished and the way that we finished the season. That was a goal for me, and the goal in order to start on the right foot next season. Body-wise, I feel very, very good.”

The Nuggets have a total of $64 million in salaries on the books this season with Gallinari and forwards Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler accounting for $36 million of the cap number.

With Lawson in Houston, the team’s point guard duties will be handled by veteran Jameer Nelson and promising rookie Emmanuel Mudiay.

Dante Exum goes down with left knee injury

The worst fear of an NBA player, team or fan when it comes to playing summer ball may have materialized with promising second year guard Dante Exum, who suffered an apparent serious left knee injury.

According to Jody Genessey of the Deseret News, Utah Jazz officials are bracing for the worst news.

Video of Exum, who is playing for the Australian National team, shows the player suffered the injury while driving into the paint versus Slovenia where the left knee buckled without any physical contact.

The Jazz announced Exum will return to Utah for further evaluation on his injured knee by team doctors before a timeline is set on rehabilitation and availability for the 2015-16 campaign.

Exum had an up and down rookie season but played in all 82 games, starting in half of them, for the Jazz and never fell out of the nightly rotation, which speaks to how high the organization is on his upside.

Exum averaged 4.8 points, 2.4 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 22 minutes per game as a rookie.

Kevin Seraphin headed to New York Knicks

Seraphin, a five year veteran, has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $2.8 million deal with the New York Knicks, according to Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops.

Seraphin averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 79 contests last season with the Wizards. At his current price tag he’s the perfect low risk option for Knicks team president Phil Jackson as the franchise continues its rebuilding efforts. The veteran center figures to primarily serve as the backup for Robin Lopez in New York.

The Knicks have put together a solid summer of new additions while also protecting future cap space.

Here are the names of the new guys in the Big Apple:

Kristaps Porzingis, forward
Arron Afflalo, guard-forward
Derrick Williams, forward
Kyle O’Quinn, center
Kevin Seraphin, center

The Knicks will also be aided by the return of a presumably healthy Carmelo Anthony, who was limited to just 40 games last season due to a knee injury.