League officials have announced that the Denver Nuggets used the amnesty clause on center Chris Andersen, freeing a roster spot that allowed them to sign Anthony Randolph, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves, to a 3-year, $6 million contract.
The deadline to make a decision on amnesty players was midnight on July 16, and the news concerning the 34-year-old Anderson came out at 11:59 pm; obviously a decision that the Nuggets wanted to be certain about.
Randolph was rumored to be courted by the Nuggets front office in recent days, having been spotted with Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, coach George Karl and general manager Masai Ujiri on July 14 in Las Vegas.
Andersen will still receive the remaining money guaranteed in his contract – all $9.3 million of it. The amnesty clause allows teams to waive a player who signed a contract before the new collective bargaining agreement was agreed upon. The remaining salary, while still owed to the player, does not go against the Nuggets salary cap and the team creates an opening on the roster. If the Nuggets had signed Randolph without using the amnesty clause on Andersen, there would have not been a roster spot available for restricted free agent JaVale McGee, who is reported to be considering a 5-year, $50 million contract from Denver.
Andersen’s departure comes after a free fall from the good graces of Denver fans. Andersen was beloved by Nuggets fans, who were attracted to the comeback story of the Birdman. The highlight of his time with the Nuggets came in the 2008-2009 playoff run, where the Birdman played significant minutes, playing solid defense and encouraging the crowd. With the acquisition of Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov, Andersen lost minutes to the two young centers who, while not as colorfully, outperformed Andersen 0n the court. A mid-season trade in 2012 brought in center JaVale McGee, further limiting the minutes for Andersen.
Andersen averaged his fewest minutes in 2012 as a Denver Nugget, playing 15.2 mpg in only 32 games. The limited playing time led to another all-time low in his time as a Nugget in points, rebounds, and shooting percentage.
The open roster spot didn’t stay vacant for long, as the Nuggets also announced that they have reached an agreement with Anthony Randolph, an unrestricted free agent formerly with the Minnesota Timberwolves. It is interesting to note that both players Minnesota received as the third party in the Carmelo Anthony trade – Corey Brewer and Anthony Randolph – are now on the Nuggets roster (as noted by @nuggetslove).
Randolph is only four months younger than second-year forward Kenneth Faried, but is joining his fourth team in as many seasons. Randolph was a very talented forward/center in college at Louisiana State University, and was selected no. 14 in the first round by Golden State in the 2008 draft. After joining the Warriors, he didn’t leave the bench often, but averaged 13.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 steals in the last 12 games of the season.
Former Lakers forward Lamar Odom had this to say about Randolph after a game in that season.
“He’s two times as athletic as I was at that age … He should set his goals high. He has All-Star potential, Hall of Fame potential, with that size, his ability to put the ball on the floor, he can shoot the three, he can pass. If he stays focused, the sky is the limit for him.”
That potential translated to career best numbers in the 2009-2010 season, but came to a stop after Randolph suffered a left ankle sprain that kept him out of the second half of the season. Randolph averaged 11.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 assists while playing 22.7 minutes per game. After the season ended, Randolph was traded in a package deal for New York Knick forward David Lee.
Randolph barely saw the court in New York, only playing 127 minutes in 17 games. He was sent to Minnesota in another trade, where he took advantage of the newly discovered playing time. Randolph averaged 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds, including a 31 point,11 rebound, 3 assist, 2 steals and 1 block line against Dallas on March 24. He finished the season on a tear, scoring 99 points in five games while shooting .5264 from the floor.
Last season fans saw DNP-Coach’s decision next to Randolph’s name on the box score game after game until the end of the season, where he was let off the bench for another end-of-the-year scoring burst. He averaged 14.3 points in the last eight games, including a 22 point, 11 rebound performance against Oklahoma City that was lost in the lights of a 43 point performance by Kevin Durant.
So what is Anthony Randolph? He’s a 6’11″, 225 lbs power forward/center who entered the league with 4.7% body fat, a 35 inch vertical jump, and a 7’3″ wingspan (that’s the same length as Meyers Leonard, a recent first round pick). He has good ball-handling skills, can knock down mid-range jumpers, is quick and explosive. He also lacks fundamentals, strength, doesn’t have a defined position, makes bad decisions with the ball, and doesn’t try on defense, having been spotted walking back on defense numerous times.
I think Randolph is another version of JaVale McGee, just without the production. He is still very young, raw prospect, who hasn’t had the opportunity to play very often. What Masai Ujiri did was take a risk on a player who may not see the court very often, but will have the opportunity to work with a great staff and learn from a winning team. When the contract for Timofey Mozgov expires at the end of the 2012-2013 season, the Nuggets will be able to see if they need to re-sign him based upon Randolph’s growth during the season, as there won’t be a need to keep three back-up centers.
In the end, Randolph, whom will likely serve as a tall, athletic 12th man – a role similar to what Anderson used to be – was a cheaper, younger, and had more upside than Andersen, which made Andersen expendable. Nuggets fans will miss Andersen, who turned his life around in Denver, and I speak for all of those fans when I wish him the best wherever he goes.
Another development is an injury to backup guard Julyan Stone. Stone has suffered a hip injury similar to the injury suffered by Wilson Chandler, an injury that requires surgery. The recovery is five months, meaning that Stone is in danger of losing his roster spot to rookie Quincy Miller.
The roster is beginning to come together, and if McGee resigns and Quincy Miller is added onto the roster, the Nuggets will have the distinction of having one of the youngest teams in the NBA. The team will be so young, in fact, that they would have been the youngest squad last season, a mark that was held by Sacramento with an average age of 24.68.
About the Author
Written by Daniel Lewis
Deputy editor of digital content for Brigham Young University newspaper, The Universe. Native of Denver, Colo. He likes to ride his bicycle.