Nuggets may have more deals on the way

Just sitting around waiting for the dust to settle, and upon checking, I’ve discovered it’s settled enough to pound on a keyboard.

Observations as the dog days sneak up …

■ The Denver Nuggets have identified — and more importantly, staked claim to — one of the brighter stars on the NBA free agent horizon. The team, known most recently for stuttering, stammering and stopping, finally took a giant step in agreeing to a three-year contract with power forward Paul Millsap.

It was a move the Nuggets had to make to keep up with the Joneses and every other team in the West. No, it won’t put them on the same level with the world champion Golden State Warriors — the Nuggets aren’t going to go near the $40 million luxury tax mark the Warriors are broaching.

Millsap will, however, allow Denver to mess with the rest of the West teams on the rise like the T-Wolves and the Thunder.

When thinking playoffs for the Nuggets, consider playoff teams of last season Memphis, Portland and Utah have done nothing to improve — and Utah is liable to lose star Gordon Hayward to free agency.

One other thing about the Nuggets: They aren’t done with the moving parts yet. More defense is on the way.

Moving on …

■ The Denver Broncos brought in a new coaching staff, a gaggle of new offensive linemen and an old running back, then sent everyone home to study a playbook worthy of Peyton Manning.  Manning, unfortunately, is more at home hosting the ESPYS than on the football field. And the Broncos will be led by one of two babes, Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch.

With training camp less than a month away, all eyes have been on the quarterback situation with good reason. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterback coach Bill Musgrave (surely you remember him) will decide ASAP on a starter and tailor the offense to that QB’s skill set.

Siemian will dictate more ball control, a more conservative attack. Lynch will sit back in the shotgun, scramble a bit and gun it down field more often.

The two are virtual opposites.

Think we’ll be reading more about this in the coming months? (My money’s on Lynch.)

Onward and downward … 

■ The Colorado Avalanche, proud possessors of the worst record in recent NHL history, have spent the past months doing their best imitation of the Nuggets. They have, however, not taken that one big step the Nuggets just took, instead banking on 17- and 18-year-olds to grow up in three or four years.

Patience in this case may turn Av fans into so many Jay Gonyeaus (meaning Red Wing fans). I remember paying attention to the Avs. Now, however, they are an afterthought, if that.

I don’t know if I can hang on long enough for 18-yard-old Cale Maker to grow up and be a force on a yet-to-exist Colorado defense.

■ For a more positive vibe, we now glance at the Rockies, yes, the Colorado Rockies. Despite a woeful road trip to the west, the Rox have four deserving All-Stars in Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu and Greg Holland.

The team has been as many as 20 games over .500 and is in contention for a playoff berth as the All-Star break nears. While I don’t think the Rox have the pitching firepower to mess with the Dodgers or D-backs over the long haul, meaningful games in September and October, once only a fleeting dream, would now appear likely, even probable.

Also probable: Contention for years to come because of a talented young — and deep — roster. Stay tuned for a trade or two as the never-ending search for bullpen depth continues.

While it would be heartbreak for grandson Cody, Cargo maybe headed elsewhere, as could one of the team’s surprising shining lights, first baseman Mark Reynolds. Ian Desmond can slip back to first base when outfielders David Dahl and Gerardo Parra come off the DL.


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