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“Ty Lawson said he had mixed emotions about his new role as the starting point guard because he was losing his mentor who helped groom him for this moment. "It was more than about basketball," Lawson said. "We hung out. So, I'm going to miss him." The Nuggets aren't rebuilding with this trade, but are rather reinventing themselves, Karl said. With the newcomers not expected to take their physicals until Wednesday, however, the Nuggets had just nine players available for their crucial game against Memphis on Tuesday night, only seven of whom participated in the shootaround, with assistant coaches chipping in to make it 5-on-5. Although the trade leaves the Nuggets with a leadership void, Karl insisted Denver will make the playoffs this season and predicted they might even do something they did just once in seven trips to the playoffs with Anthony: advance out of the first round. "When we get the players here, there's going to be a refreshing attitude, a regrouping," Karl said. "I might be crazy, but I think we can make the playoffs and I also think we can be a threat to win in the playoffs." The Nuggets are 32-25 and in seventh place in the Western Conference and although they have a tough stretch of games against Memphis, Boston, Portland and Atlanta to close out the month, Kenyon Martin said the playoffs are still well within Denver's grasp. "Why not? Still got good guys who can play basketball," Martin said. "Of course you're losing two great players, but I think we're in a good place now. ... We'll be all right. It's not like they shipped everybody." With Billups gone, Lawson, a second-year speedster, and Felton, who was averaging 17.1 points and nine assists in an All-Star worthy season for New York, will split time at the point. Like Karl, both Felton and Lawson went to North Carolina. Felton led the Tar Heels to the 2005 NCAA championship and Lawson guided them to the 2009 title. "George was here this weekend and we talked about it," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "I do believe he can play both of those guys at the same time, having the ability to really push, having the ability to cover people. It's something I'm looking forward to. It makes me want to see Denver play even more."
I can't deny that when the trade went down last night, I was kind of more sad than happy. I think most of that sadness was because of Chauncey [Billups].” -- George Karl
“Lawson is moving up the ladder sooner than expected. "I think I'm ready," he said. "[Billups] did a good job, taught me things I need to know, situations and just overall being a bigger brother to me on the basketball court, so I'm ready for it." The trade leaves the Nuggets without a superstar to put fans in the seats but plenty of young talent and also an abundance of wing players. By getting younger and losing Anthony's high scoring clip but more deliberate pace, the Nuggets plan to push the tempo more and create scoring chances for everybody else. "We're looking forward to it," Al Harrington said. "Coaches want us to play a lot faster. By playing faster, the ball's moving around, the ball is going to be shared a lot more. We feel the rim will be open a little bit more." Karl said he felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders with Anthony finally traded but he also felt the burden of meshing a new roster with just 25 games left in the regular season. "I feel energized and lifted and happy about a change, but as I said I thought when I was driving home last night I'd be a lot happier. When I sat there for a couple of hours, you know, I was more sad," Karl said. And that had to do with losing Billups and Carter more then Melo. "I mean, Melo gets what he wants," Karl said, adding that Williams and Balkman probably get more minutes in New York, too. It's not as though Karl was trying to disrespect Anthony, even though the All-Star forward's desire to leave Denver hung over the team for eight months. "I have tremendous respect for what he did here, what he gave us, what he gave me," Karl said. "I can't deny his personality and his skill level is a conflictive personality to a coach. And you know I thought we survived this year ... I think we survived it in a positive way. Now, was it an A-plus? Probably not. But I look at the six years that I had with Melo as a blessing for a coach. We won a lot of games, and we won a lot of those games because of Melo."
I might be crazy, but I think we can make the playoffs and I also think we can be a threat to win in the playoffs.” -- George Karl