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The Nuggets Get Back to Basketball

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The Denver Nuggets’ 2010-11 regular season gets underway tonight, as the team plays host to the division rival Utah Jazz at the Pepsi Center (7 p.m., Altitude). Finally, fans will have something more than the Melo trade talks to focus on, even though that storyline isn’t close to fading out.

The Denver Post’s Dave Krieger reminds us that Melo isn’t the only one who could end up leaving this season: Kenyon Martin, JR Smith, and Nene are all entering the final years of their contracts. As such, coach George Karl has to prepare for one strategy with the current roster and be ready to transition to a new one on very little notice.

“Whatever happens, I think we’re going to be a good basketball team,” Karl says. His coaching contract is also nearing an end, but Karl tells AOL Fanhouse that instead of wanting to run from a team with myriad problems, he prefers to sign a new, multi-year contract and play out his coaching career in Denver. But his optimism isn’t shared in league circles.

Sports Illustrated’s NBA Enemy Lines asks rival scouts to evaluate opposing teams—and the scouts couldn’t spare any niceties for the Nuggets. “They’ve got a terrible roster with older, expensive players, and I don’t see how they fit together, especially if they trade Carmelo Anthony,” one anonymous scout writes.

ESPN’s first iteration of the power rankings agrees, putting the Nuggets at 14th in the league heading into the start of the season. CBS Sports’ power rankings are much the same, putting the Nuggets at 15th and blaming new free-agent signee Al Harrington. But local bloggers with Denver Stiffs think the Nuggets will be a top-five team in the Western Conference, highlighting the conflicting predictions for Denver as the team jumps into the season.

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