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New Nuggets Arrive in Denver, Glad to Be Moving On

Feb 23, 2011 – 12:56 AM
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Chris Tomasson

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DENVER -- Wilson Chandler just got to Denver and he already wants to stay.

That's easy to say now. Still, it has to be comforting news for Nuggets fans.

"I'm pretty sure I'll like it,'' Chandler, one of five players acquired Tuesday by the Nuggets in a blockbuster trade in which they gave up Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, said when asked by FanHouse about being a restricted free agent this summer. "What the future holds, hopefully I'll come back next year.''

Chandler was acquired from the Knicks in a three-team deal along with forward Danilo Gallinari, guard Raymond Felton and center Timofey Mozgov. All arrived in the second quarter of Denver's 120-107 win Tuesday night over Memphis at the Pepsi Center and got a good ovation from the crowd.

The Nuggets also picked up center Kosta Koufos from Minnesota, and he will arrive Wednesday. The Nuggets have pushed practice back a few hours in anticipation of having all their new players.

In the meantime, all must get used to their new surroundings.

"I feel great (to be traded to the Nuggets). ... I know the high in Denver right now,'' Mozgov, who speaks limited English, said, apparently referring to the city's altitude.

But nobody, apparently, has a serious case of altitude sickness. Felton said all four players from New York have passed their physicals.

With Koufos expected to pass his Wednesday, all the players should be eligible to play Thursday against Boston. Barring any unforeseen problems, all the players who went from Denver to New York, with Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter joining Anthony and Billups, should be eligible to play for the Knicks at home Wednesday against Milwaukee.

A source close to the situation said the Nuggets won't make another deal by Thursday's trade deadline unless there's something that knocks the team's "socks off.'' The source doesn't expect J.R. Smith to be traded, and that the Nuggets want to re-sign him. That echoes what Denver executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri previously has told FanHouse, with Smith saying he wants to re-sign.

"I'm pretty sure I'll like it. What the future holds, hopefully I'll come back next year.''
-- Wilson Chandler on arriving in denver
Nuggets coach George Karl said Ty Lawson will be Denver's starting point guard for at least the next week or two while Felton will come off the bench. Felton, despite being an All-Star candidate with averages of 17.1 points and 9.0 rebounds, said that's OK with him.

"I've got no problem with that,'' Felton said. "I'm here to play basketball. I'm a great teammate. I figure I'm going to be playing... It's not all about starting.''

Felton didn't mind escaping from all the trade talk that has been going on in New York, as well as Denver, since last summer.

"I'm just glad it's all over with,'' Felton said. "Now, we can go back to playing basketball. ... (The trade talk) was very distracting. We just wanted to play basketball. We didn't want to deal with all the craziness. It was crazy, and it was getting out of hand. So I'm glad it got done.''

Karl anticipates Gallinari will be the only one of Denver's new players to immediately start. He is expected to replace Anthony, a four-time All-Star, at small forward, but claims there is no pressure on him.

"Not really,'' Gallinari said. "That's a team sport. So everybody has to do their job and everybody has their responsibility.''

With Gallinari starting, Karl said Chandler likely will be the sixth man.

"That's fine with me if I come off the bench,'' Chandler said. "That's cool. I have no problem with it.''

Chandler was saying all the right things Tuesday, including wanting to re-sign this summer with the Nuggets.

Chris Tomasson
Chris Tomasson | Twitter: @ChrisTomasson | E-mail Chris

Chris Tomasson covered the Denver Nuggets from 2002-09 for the defunct Rocky Mountain News. Prior to that, he was on the Cleveland Cavaliers beat for the Akron Beacon Journal and also has covered five Olympics, major college sports, the NFL and MLB. He has won numerous awards, including 10 in the past nine Pro Basketball Writers Association contests.
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