Veteran attacker JaMychal Green had been on the Nuggets’ radar long before that first hectic night of free agency two weeks ago.
And they were fans of his before Green’s Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to Denver in the second round of last season’s playoffs.
Green, who signed a two-year $ 15 million deal with the Nuggets less than two weeks ago, said he was “very close” to signing in Denver, the last off-season, before deciding to return to Los Angeles.
“I’ve always kept that in mind, so me and Coach Malone, we’ve always been in a relationship throughout the season,” Green said at his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “It just felt like it was the right decision to come here.”
There were numerous aspects of playing with Denver that Green claims in the aftermath of the Clippers’ playoff implosion. Green said he appreciated Denver’s selfless style of play, recognized their young talent, and noticed their tenacity when the Clippers were 3-1 on them.
“They blew a 3-1 lead, they just fought,” said Green. “It just showed you the kind of heart they had.”
That might be as much a nod to the Nuggets ‘ethos as it is an indictment of the Clippers’ DNA. Green also said he liked Malone’s approach to coaching as it empowers his players.
“It’s not like a green light (to shoot), but you go out comfortably,” he said.
But aside from his toughness and 3-point shooting, both attractive traits as the Nuggets try to prove their staying power among the Western elite, Green wanted to be in Denver. And after the Jerami Grant mess – seeing the versatile striker bypassing the same money to sign with Detroit – that was important.
“A man like JaMychal Green, who we’ve looked at in the past, decided to become a Denver Nugget,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “We are excited about that.”
At one point during the negotiations with Grant, the Nuggets looked internally and came to a conclusion. If Grant was unhappy about sacrificing his role despite a title shot and while making the same money, the Nuggets might be better off without him.
From that perspective, the green signature makes even more sense. Green took interest from teams like the Clippers, Lakers, Spurs, Bucks and 76ers, among several others, according to a league source. Winning was important to him.
“I’ve always wanted to go to a team that was a contender and that’s going to compete, that’s going to win,” said Green. “Pretty much every team that came to me was usually a playoff team. It really wasn’t a hard decision. “
Green has already projected a willingness to play any role the Nuggets want from him. That’s a mindset Grant struggled with during his only season in Denver. Grant, who supported Paul Millsap throughout the regular season, thought getting off the bench was a personal sacrifice, according to a league source. It’s part of the reason he sought a bigger role in Detroit – a team that is also less likely to compete for a championship.
With Denver, Green knows he can fight. Therefore, he will take whatever role Malone finds for him.
“Being in the base doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Green. ‘I just want my minutes. I want to be there to help compete, help to win. Starting or ending the game … I just want to be outside and just fulfill my role. “
And the Nuggets are more than happy with him.