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News » Denver Nuggets Getting Inside 2008-08-29


Denver Nuggets Getting Inside 2008-08-29


Denver Nuggets Getting Inside 2008-08-29
At least Renaldo Balkman talks about playing defense.

The Nuggets traded center Marcus Camby in a salary dump and watched as another gritty defender, forward Eduardo Najera, bolted as a free agent. Some observers figured that didn't leave anybody on the Nuggets too excited about playing defense.

Shortly after the losses of Camby and Najera, the Nuggets sought to plug holes in their front line. They acquired Balkman from New York and signed former Nuggets big man Chris Andersen as a free agent.

"I consider myself as a defensive stopper," said Balkman, a 6-foot-8 forward.

Andersen may not have made that vow, but he can block a few shots and do some dirty work. That is, if he has anything left.

Andersen, 30, returned last March to New Orleans after sitting out two years due to an NBA drug suspension. But he played a meager 34 minutes in five games the rest of the season, so it's hard to tell how effective he can be.

"That's behind me," Andersen, who played for the Nuggets from 2001-04, said of his drug suspension. "I made an immediate change from the get-go. It's a lot of hard work and a lot of effort, a lot of time just to get back where I'm at. There's not a chance in hell I'm going to try to mess that up again. It's all about just finishing my career solid and on a good note."

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if Balkman and Andersen can do an even passable job of replacing Camby and Najera. Camby led the NBA in blocked shots each of the previous three seasons and Najera provided energy off the bench.

At least there's a chance Balkman, a first-round pick in 2006 whose minutes in New York were erratic, could blossom.

"He's a tremendous defender, he's a tremendous steals guy, he's a tremendous rebounder and he's a mile-high runner," said Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 29, 2008

 

 
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