Carmelo Anthony trudged out of EnergySolutions Arena three years ago on the last night of April, months away from strong-arming a trade to New York, his Denver Nuggets career effectively over. Down the concrete corridor, Deron Williams celebrated a first-round playoff win, four straight losses to the Lakers away from the end of his last hurrah with the Utah Jazz. Within a year, the stars of that series were scattered; two franchises were reshaped by blockbuster trades. On Wednesday, the Nuggets (50-24) come to Salt Lake City the No. 3 team in the West, fresh off a 15-game winning streak, bearing few scars from the Anthony trade, while the Jazz, in the words of top executive Kevin O’Connor, are "a stage or two behind them." O’Connor acknowledges that he expected that series represented the end for a Jazz core that included Williams and Carlos Boozer. Like the Jazz, Denver hasn’t had an All-Star since blowing up its roster and moving its franchise player. However, the rise back to the top of the West has been vastly more rapid, for reasons the Jazz say range from coach George Karl’s expertise to the fact the Nuggets traded Anthony for a collection of players with NBA experience, while the Jazz collected draft picks. "It does surprise you that a team like that is still up there," says Paul Millsap, the only Jazz player left from the 2010 series. Like the Jazz, the Nuggets have seen a complete overhaul. Point guard Ty Lawson is the only player remaining from the 2010 Denver team.
Once similar to Jazz, Denver enjoys rapid rebuild
Salt Lake Tribune | Apr 3