Taking a quick look around the division and I can't help but notice the position the Nuggets are in. They were forced to trade their superstar and now find themselves with some nice talent, but little to be real hopeful about. Hold on you say this team has cap-space and young talent what's the problem? They are due for decline.
1) Nene opted out. Denver must now either pay Nene or get worse. This would be a no brainer, but Denver only has 8 guaranteed salaries for next year and three of them are Centers (Koufos, Mozgov and Anderson). They'll have $10.4 million and three roster spots already filling the 5. Assuming the retain Nene they find themselves fighting to maintain the status quo.
2) Affalo is due for a pay increase. Yes Denver should retain him, but with such a weak free agent class he's one of the few players worth driving the price up for. Expect him to be retained, but at a higher price tag then the team would like to see. Again Denver finds themselves fighting to maintain the status quo.
3) Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith signed in China. No opt out clauses. They are gone for the year. Denver will retain restricted free agency rights on Chandler if he comes back the the NBA, but when major contributors walk away with no return it hurts the team. More so in years like this where the free agent class is weak enough that Denver can't just buy quality replacements.
4) Weak free agent class. Denver will find itself with $$$ and a half empty roster, but this isn't the summer of Lebron. Once we get past David West, Tyson Chandler and Marc Gasol about half the attractive free agents will be members of last years Nuggets roster. It's hard to see Denver improving.
5) Stuck in limbo. Still a small market. Unlikely to win the lottery in the near future. Not a real contender.. Not enough game changing free agents available until cap-space is likely to be spent. It's hard to see Denver getting much better. I expect they'll be better than the Wolves, but it's hard to imagine them not being stuck in a slow decline for the next few years. Lawson, Gallinari, Affalo, Nene etc are all good starters, but it could be a long time before Denver matters in the post season.