On the Brink of the Season, the Nuggets Are Missing Birdman and Martin

October 20 2010, 9:30 AM

With the start of the regular season just one week away, the Denver Nuggets are shaping up, winning last night's preseason game against the potent Oklahoma City Thunder 130-115 at the Pepsi Center. As The Denver Post writes, Carmelo Anthony's shooting touch is in mid-season form: He went 9-for-16 with 21 points, along with nine rebounds. Guard JR Smith finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, and second-year point guard Ty Lawson added 18 points. But the defense wasn't quite up to par, with the Nuggets missing several assignments and not communicating well, according to Melo.

The defense may have been better if shot blocker Chris "Birdman" Andersen and defensive leader Kenyon Martin were playing, but that won't happen for months. The Post blogs that coach George Karl expects Andersen to return December 1 and Martin on January 1. Both players are recovering from off-season knee surgeries, and although Andersen says he wants to get back as soon as possible, Martin made headlines recently when he said he wouldn't rush back from his surgery since the team hasn't offered him a contract extension.

There are indications that the Nuggets could also soon be without Anthony, who has made no secret of his desire to leave town. ESPN says the New York Knicks are making significant progress on a deal that would include enough talent and a first-round draft pick for the Nuggets, putting a trade back in play. AOL Fanhouse looks the other way, saying Melo hasn't ruled out eventually signing the Nuggets' $65 million extension offer.