The 2013-14 season has been more tumultuous than expected for a Denver Nuggets team that, as far as the roster goes, only had one significant loss in the offseason. Andre Iguodala left Denver, but the core of Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee and Danilo Gallinari remained. It's just that McGee and Gallinari have been injured.
Rarely does a franchise coming off a 57-win regular season get hit with so much front office turnover. The Nuggets lost Masai Ujiri, the 2013 NBA Executive of the Year, to the Toronto Raptors and then parted ways with George Karl, the 2013 Coach of the Year. In stepped head coach Brian Shaw and general manager Tim Connelly, both in their first years leading a team, to take over a roster with little wiggle room in the coming seasons.
Unless they get creative, the Nuggets could have a tough time revamping the roster, but that's OK considering the talent that remains.
Denver is well over the salary cap, with $70.1 million committed to salaries in 2014-15 taking into account player options, according to Sham Sports. That's pushing the luxury tax line that was set by the NBA at $71.7 million this year.
With a 24-27 record out of the All-Star break, the Nuggets find themselves six games out of the Western Conference playoffs. They're less than $4 million from the luxury tax threshold, and injuries have done a big part in derailing any chance for success.
The most likely move
Veteran point guard Andre Miller hasn't played for Denver nor been a part of team activities since the calendar flipped to 2014. A disagreement over playing time and a shouting match with Shaw led to Miller finding himself on the trading block, and the Nuggets are poised to move him. According to Yahoo! Sports, the relationship between Miller and the Nuggets is beyond repair, and the point guard is hoping to be traded before Thursday.
The Sacramento Kings targeted Miller to add support to point guard Isaiah Thomas, but Denver didn't seem to bite on trade proposals that included a return of Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette or Jason Thompson. The Washington Wizards also have interest in Miller's savvy as a backup guard, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. The Wizards haven't found a suitable backup to John Wall, but seemingly don't have enough to entice Denver into discussing a deal.
Miller is making $5 million this year and has a non-guaranteed final year on his contract in 2014-15 worth $4.6 million.
What else can be done?
The quick answer is "not much." Though the Nuggets have some fine pieces on the roster, some of the more movable assets are injured.
McGee is likely out for the season with a leg injury, and Gallinari is eyeing a return at next season's training camp after need a second knee surgery to repair his torn ACL. It's hard to imagine either of them going on the block.
The Nuggets are reportedly reluctant to swap forward Kenneth Faried to the New York Knicks in exchange for shooting guard Iman Shumpert. It's unclear if Faried, who may be nearing his ceiling because of his limited offensive game and undersized stature, could be on the block for a better offer.
Nobody on the roster aside from Miller and swingman Jordan Hamilton has an expiring contract, so if Connelly is quietly thinking about opening up cap space, perhaps his only bet is to trade a mid-level contract like that of Wilson Chandler or J.J. Hickson to a buyer looking to beef up its depth chart for a playoff run.
In general, the Nuggets are a defense and a healthy roster away from becoming a playoff contender, so even though the new front office could look for changes, there's a chance that, beyond a Miller trade, standing pat is the best option.