Start flapping those wings, Denver Nuggets fans: Chris “Birdman” Andersen will stay with the team, according to The Denver Post. Andersen, 31, agreed to a five-year deal that could pay up to $26 million–a big haul for a guy just one season past a two-year ban from the National Basketball Association for drug use. Re-signing Birdman was the No. 1 priority for the Nuggets this off-season, but they’re going to have to do more to compete with the NBA’s elite teams.
To wit: The Los Angeles Lakers, fresh off a dominant championship win, signed troubled star Ron Artest, who will bring enough fire to the Lakers to make a 2010 championship a safe bet. The Cleveland Cavaliers, already loaded with the NBA’s best young player, LeBron James, signed Shaquille O’Neal. Although he’s older and a bit slower, he’ll still have to be accounted for on the floor and will free up space for LeBron to hit shots from practically anywhere.
The Boston Celtics will get Kevin Garnett back from injury and are signing Rasheed Wallace, a gifted three-point shooter. The San Antonio Spurs, a team that has always given the Nuggets problems, signed star small forward Richard Jefferson and will likely re-emerge as a top-flight team in the Western Conference.
As one Fox Sports columnist puts it, the elite teams’ off-season acquisitions are a case of the rich getting richer. The Nuggets are a borderline-great team, and signing Birdman is a huge deal, but they may not have enough to compete with L.A, Cleveland, Boston, and San Antonio.