Even for the always smiling joking Timofey Mozgov last season became a drag. He wanted to play and thought he was headed toward more playing time yet down the stretch he was forced to accept that his view of most Nuggets games would be from the bench.
Mozgov got swept up in a numbers game at center. Kosta Koufos was the starter. JaVale McGee got the backup center minutes. Mozgov became the odd man out. He got playing time only after injuries or foul trouble or if there was an unusual matchup against a team with multiple 7-footers.
He played in only 41 games averaging just 8.9 minutes.
It was frustrating enough to drive any player out of town. As a restricted free agent Mozgov could have sought out another NBA team and pushed the Nuggets not to match any other offer he received. Instead he ended up right back in Denver signing a three-year $14 million contract in July.
First-year Nuggets coach Brian Shaw and general manager Tim Connelly had to sell him on coming back.
"Before I ...