Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone appeared on the popular NBA podcast “The Lowe Post” earlier this week. Malone and ESPN hoops analyst Zach Lowe covered a number of subjects in the hour-long interview, including Malone’s Queens, New York, upbringing, his penchant for fighting as a youngster and his 2016-17 season outlook for the Nuggets.
You can listen to the whole podcast here. Below are some of the highlights:
On the Nuggets’ number of international players:
“I think we have eight international players now. So I’m becoming pretty proficient in my ability to swear in multiple languages. When you’ve been in the league as long as I have, you’re exposed to many, many words from players who come from different backgrounds. So it’s going well.”
On his abrupt and unexpected firing in Sacramento:
“My wife is very, very mild mannered, but when I called her that night when I got fired, she was very emotional and angry. And I get it. I told my daughters that next morning before they went to school that I would never allow for them to hear it from someone else before they hear it from me. And they were devastated and crying and they didn’t want to go to school. And I said, ‘No you’re going to go to school, and you’re going to hold your head up high.’ This is part of my job, unfortunately.”
On Kenneth Faried’s chances to be the starting power forward on opening night:
“There’s a good chance. Kenneth’s been here for a while. I played him 25 minutes a night last year. Unlike any other big man on our roster, he brings something to the table that nobody else can. He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s an elite rebounder. And he’s a guy who you can throw the ball up to and play above the rim.”
On the possibility of playing Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic together:
For the last five games of the year we said, ‘Let’s see if Nikola and Jusuf can play together.’ And what are the pros and what are the cons … . There were some great moments, and there were some moments where we said, ‘I’m not really sure.’ As I’ve looked at it and we’ve talked about it over the summer time, you have two unique bigs and most of the NBA is going away from that. The rest of the league is going small ball. Steve Kerr and the Warriors had their death lineup, and you keep playing the small forward at the center position. But what I love about Jokic and Nurkic is that they are both very, very skilled and are very good passers. Jokic can step out and shoot the 3. He shot 33 percent from there last year as a rookie on his way to becoming a first-team all-rookie player.
Offensively, I think there’s no problems playing them together. I really don’t. Defensively was my biggest concern. Can Nikola Jokic guard stretch fours? Can he guard smaller, athletic fours away from the basket? That’s something that we’ve talked about, we’ve addressed and just trying to make sure that, not only do we work on him getting stronger and his body, but also working on his quickness and foot speed because he did a good job of guarding the interior for us like when we beat San Antonio at home. He struggled a little bit when he had to guard a stretch four who he had to close out on the perimeter and run him off of the line.”