The Nuggets did not pay center JaVale McGee a $10 million salary so coach George Karl could let him rot on the bench in the playoffs.
After being good enough to be in the starting lineup 81 times for a 57-win team during the regular season, center Kosta Koufos lost his job after one loss to Golden State, as if it were his fault the Nuggets cannot defend 3-point shots from Warriors guard Steph Curry.
Anybody know where the Nuggets can find two psychiatrist couches in an extra long? The Denver centers are 14 feet of head case.
Want to know why the Nuggets are unexpectedly trailing upstart Golden State 2-1 in this best-of-seven playoff series?
Denver is afraid to be the bigger team.
The responsibility for that problem falls squarely on Karl.
Here are two scenes from Game 3 of the series that illustrate why the big men from Denver are all messed up. Behind the curtain of the stoic faces of McGee and Koufos is emotional clutter Karl must clean up if the Nuggets are to survive against the Warriors and advance.
During one of those scuffles that define gamesmanship that is part and parcel of the NBA playoffs, veteran Golden State center Andrew Bogut dared McGee to punch him on the court. McGee is regarded as such a volatile personality that the Warriors are trying to mess with his mind in hopes of getting Denver's most athletically gifted big man kicked out of a game.
Long after the Nuggets had blown a big halftime lead and lost their first road game of the postseason against Golden State, Koufos stood outside the visitors' locker room in a lengthy discussion with his agent and a friend. Good thing they were there to support Koufos. Because he apparently has lost the trust of Karl, who yanked his 7-foot center from the starting lineup and then played Koufos a scant 11 minutes in Game 3.
"I can play small, and I think my best team is small," Karl said.
If the straw polls prove to be correct, Karl is going to win the league's coach of the year award for the first time in his long career.
The lack of playing time created tension. Here's why: In the name of home-court advantage in the playoffs, Karl sacrificed development of McGee. Win the game. That is the natural instinct of every coach. But is McGee truly a better player than he was a year ago? Now, when the Nuggets could use his athleticism, has trust really grown between McGee and Karl? Or has it diminished?
"The success I had last year (in the playoffs) was playing against bigs who get the ball a lot. The bigs on this (Golden State) team don't really get the ball. It's more guard-oriented. I can't really be as effective as I was against (Andrew) Bynum, who was getting 20 touches a game, and against Pau Gasol, who was getting 15 touches a game," said McGee, who heard praise nationwide, especially from the booming voice of legendary center Shaquille O'Neal, for his work against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2012 playoffs.