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News » Denver Nuggets Notes, Quotes 2009-09-04

Denver Nuggets Notes, Quotes 2009-09-04

Denver Nuggets Notes, Quotes 2009-09-04
--The NBA has suspended Nuggets G J.R. Smith for the first seven games of the season after he pleaded guilty to reckless driving in connection with a 2007 accident that resulted in the death of a passenger in his car.

"The commissioner's office has made it clear that it wants to set the highest standard of personal conduct for its athletes," said Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien. "We will support J.R. as he continues to deal with the tragic accident he was involved with two years ago and the consequences of his painful mistake."

The suspension could hamper Smith as he seeks to become Denver's starting shooting guard. Nuggets coach George Karl said late last season, even before last season's starter Dahntay Jones left as a free agent to Indiana, that he expected Smith to be his starter this season.

However, Karl could end up deeming that Smith, who continues to have off-the-court incidents, is still too immature to start. And it's unknown what might happen if the Nuggets perform well in the seven games Smith misses.

If the season started now, the Nuggets likely would start Arron Affalo at shooting guard. However, they are still trying to land one more perimeter player in free agency.

--The Nuggets lost restricted free-agent forward Linas Kleiza to European power Olympiakos of Greece. But Denver vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien stressed that, whenever Kleiza might want to return to the NBA, the Nuggets still will be able to match any NBA team's offer.

"His road back to the NBA goes through Denver," Warkentien said. "The simple thing is we move on, we'll replace him."

Free agents the Nuggets are looking at to replace Kleiza include Desmond Mason, Wally Szczerbiak and Ronald "Flip" Murray.

Kleiza accepted a two-year deal from Olympiakos that was worth about $12 million. He can opt out after the first year to return to the NBA.

The Nuggets had tendered Kleiza a one-year qualifying offer worth $2.7 million. But Kleiza was looking for a deal similar to the four-year, $25 million extension he was close to signing last fall before the Nuggets pulled the deal off the table.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not always about names and pickups. You still got to allow those teams to mesh. We've meshed. I don't put much stock in it, although there are a lot of teams that got better." -- G Chauncey Billups, unconcerned that his Nuggets mostly stood pat during the summer while other top NBA teams made key acquisitions.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: September 4, 2009


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