Hot off the heels of their playoff elimination, John Hollinger takes a deep look at some of the problems facing the Denver Nuggets this offseason. As the Nuggets and Blazers tied for the division crown this year, it's well worth your time to read through the list of player decisions they must make and the financial philosophy that compromises some of their management's flexibility.
All of which takes us back to a basic, somewhat universal problem -- it's hard getting to this point in the first place, but often it's even harder getting back.
The Hornets thought they'd be back in contention when their season ended a year ago, and the Jazz thought the same thing the year before that when they made it to the Western Conference finals. The Nuggets learned a lot in this group's first venture past the first round of the playoffs, but it remains an open question whether they'll have a chance to apply what they learned next spring.
Taking all factors into consideration, and acknowledging that KP remains in a tough spot entering the draft and free agency thanks to Martell's continuing injury, Darius's contract, Blake's surgery, and Sergio's me-first posturing, I'd rather have Portland's problems than either Denver's or Utah's.
I'd also rather have Portland's projected roster. Even in the worst-case scenario described in the post below this one, the early, early, early expectation for Blazers fans should be the team's first outright division crown since 1998-1999. Anything less should be considered a disappointment.
And with that statement we can make another one: the championship window for the Blazers is now officially open. As Hollinger notes, that window can close just as quickly as it opens. Carpe Offseason, KP.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)