The Denver Nuggets have become a fixture at the top of the Western Conference despite having major problems with the luxury tax. But now, the men most responsible for that accomplishment are on their way out.
According to NBA.com's Art Garcia, the Nuggets are parting ways with general manager Mark Warkentien and his assistant Rex Chapman.
Nuggets execs Rex Chapman & Mark Warkentien let go. Team VP Paul Andrews: "It would be best for all parties to go their separate ways."
Chapman and Warkentien were in the last years of their contract, so they were not fired. Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears lists Raptors assistant Masai Ujiri and Wizards executive Tommy Sheppard as potential replacements.
However, this is somewhat stunning if you consider their body of work over the past few years. When SB Nation ranked all 30 GMs, Warkentien came in fifth place.
Warkentien got dealt a really tough hand because the previous GM, Kiki Vandeweghe, threw around money way too frivolously for an owner who doesn't have incredibly deep pockets. Somehow, he's managed to build a contender despite that, finding great free-agent bargains and making shrewd moves to stay in contention while also trimming some salary. The Allen Iverson move is his only blemish, but he corrected that with the Chauncey Billups trade.
The Nuggets are probably in even more of a tight spot now than ever, and Warkentien's own future with the club is murky. But keep in mind that Warkentien inherited a lot of the cap hell the Nuggets currently have. To make the team better under those circumstances is very impressive.