09-30-2008, 08:24 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Preseason starts tomorrow..."Nuggets placing emphasis on defense"
How serious is coach George Karl about bringing a defensive mentality to the Nuggets?
Among the five free agents invited to training camp on make-good deals is swingman Ruben Patterson, known as a defensive specialist. The odds of Patterson, who as a Denver player lashed out at Karl after being benched during the 2006 playoffs ever returning appeared to be nil after he was dealt to Milwaukee in August 2006.
"I talked to coach, and he wants me back," said Patterson, who vows to "bust my butt" and keep "my mouth shut."
After a season in which they were dubbed by many as the "enver Nuggets" - minus the "D" - Karl said at Monday's media day that playing defense will be the emphasis when camp begins today.
"We have to change our mind-set to at least moving into the top half of the defensive-minded teams in basketball," said Karl, also saying an emphasis will be on being better prepared for the playoffs. The Nuggets have lost five straight years in the first round.
Denver gave up 107 points per game last season, next to last in the league.
"A lot of people are saying that our defense left when Marcus Camby left, so I think that gives us motivation to prove to everybody we're going to come together and play defense," forward Carmelo Anthony said of the team's top defender having been traded.
Without Camby, Karl said the defensive philosophy will change toward players rotating more quickly to the perimeter.
Other news from media day:
* Guard Allen Iverson hopes he's not dealt by the February trading deadline and Anthony said he wants Iverson to stay. "I would be lying if I said I wouldn't be disappointed (at a trade)," Iverson said. "I think I would. . . . I like the direction the team is heading. . . . I feel good about being here, but it's a business."
* Karl said Anthony Carter most likely will remain the starting point, with Iverson at shooting guard. Still, J.R. Smith will have a chance to become the starting shooting guard, with Iverson at point.
* Karl wants to get at least 70 games and an average of 30 minutes from big men Nene and Kenyon Martin. Martin wants to average 35 minutes-plus and top his career high of 77 games played.
* Point guard Chucky Atkins won't rush back after Wednesday's knee surgery. Atkins, who said it's "tough dealing with" another injury, is "not going to say it'll be a day before six weeks" before he returns, making it Nov. 5 or beyond.
* The other four free agents on make- good deals are points Smush Parker and Mateen Cleaves and forwards Nick Fazekas and James Mays. With Atkins out, Parker hopes to "take advantage" of a possible opening.