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News » NUGGETS Graham's lucky number: 13 Hard-working forward appears to have a solid grip on final roster spot.

NUGGETS Graham's lucky number: 13 Hard-working forward appears to have a solid grip on final roster spot.

NUGGETS Graham's lucky number: 13 Hard-working forward appears to have a solid grip on final roster spot. Joey Graham is holding out hope of making the Nuggets roster.

He shouldn't have to worry. It's all but certain.

Graham, 27, has impressed Nuggets coach George Karl so much that Karl has already talked about fitting the 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward in the rotation during J.R. Smith's seven-game suspension when the season starts.

Those decisions are still to be determined, but what is clear is how much Karl likes the hard- working, rough-and-tumble Graham.

"There's a 'how we played'last year that I don't think any of us want to change," Karl said. "Joey has that Dahntay Jones personality. They are different players, going to do it in different ways. But from the standpoint of courage and toughness and the desire to defend, Joey has those personalities."

The Nuggets once tried to trade Linas Kleiza for Graham when he was with Toronto. That didn't work out, and they almost missed out on Graham again this summer. Cleveland, Minnesota, Charlotte and Houston all courted Graham, who played his first four NBA seasons with the Raptors, averaging 6.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and shooting 48 percent from the field.

The Nuggets came on strong last month, and Graham had dinner with Karl just prior to the start of training camp.

"We sat down and he was telling me the things that he needed on this team, and I'm like, 'I'm that guy,"' Graham said. "I fit right into the system and the things that they are trying to do here. Me and George have a great rapport. We talk every day about the things that I need to do. And hopefully he sees I can come in and do the things he needs for me to do."

Graham is battling to fill the 13th, and presumably final, spot on the Nuggets' roster. If he makes the team, that would leave his competition for that space, swingman James White, on the outside looking in. Though the NBA allows up to 15 players on the roster, the Nuggets usually keep just 13, though Karl said he'd like to keep more.

If Graham makes the team, his one-year contract would become guaranteed on Jan. 10.

But Graham isn't thinking about that right now. The former Oklahoma State standout is simply trying to earn his way onto the roster.

"All I can do is control the things that I can control and leave the rest up to the Lord," Graham said. "I can control coming out here playing hard every day in practice and playing hard in the game. Hopefully I can show them that I do deserve to be on this team."

Chris Dempsey: 303-954-1279 or

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 16, 2009


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