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Nuggets coach dismisses tanking talk, mentions owner’s dog had ACL injury

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When Denver Nuggets tabbed Melvin Hunt as the team’s interim head coach after firing Brian Shaw, it was obvious that he was in for a huge challenge. And he’s performed, leading the team to six wins in its first eight games after taking over the job.

But a seemingly strange decision to rest players has complicated matters.

The Nuggets elected to sit Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari on Monday in an eventual 92-81 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies despite the lack of any indication any of them were injured. When asked about the decision, Hunt seemed intent on downplaying the notion that the team is intentionally tanking games in order to secure a better chance at landing a top lottery pick.

Hunt did so by insisting that the health of the players on the team, not tanking, is tantamount.

“It’s part of the game,” Hunt said, via The Denver Post. “It’s part of the league. We’re no different. We have to have great vision. We have to be nearsighted and farsighted, and this is just part of that vision.”

Hunt was then asked if it’s a bit odd for a non-playoff team to rest players, the interim head coach cited injuries, including the one the owner’s dog apparently had suffered, as the reason behind it.

“Yeah, but we’re in a very unique situation here, having come off what we did last year with so many injuries. We had players with ACL injuries; our owner’s dog had an ACL injury. We had a little bit of everything going on. We have to be very, very careful. We have to be really wise, given the situation that we are in.”

Clint Dempsey, the writer of the cited Post article, stressed on Twitter on Monday before the game that the decision to rest players wasn’t Hunt’s nor have players asked to be rested. The players don’t appear to be too happy about it, either.

“I have no idea what they are going to do,” forward Tyson Chandler said about what the team’s plans will be going forward. “Whoever is on the court just has to keep playing. It’s the nature of the business. I’m not a GM; I don’t know what’s going on. It’s tough when you’re fighting together but you’re getting set up for failure.”

Faried, one of the players who sat Monday, had less to say about sitting, but the few words he uttered revealed a lot.

“No comment,” Faried said.

[H/T Pro Basketball Talk, photo credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports]