| ||Thursday, November 11|
|DENVER -- The legal stalemate over ownership of the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche and the Pepsi Center is making it
hard for Nuggets coach Dan Issel to finalize his team's roster.
Billionaire developer and banker Donald Sturm has offered to buy the teams and the arena from Ascent Entertainment Group for $461 million. But the deal is on hold while Sturm and the city of Denver argue over a requirement that the teams play at the Pepsi Center for 25 years. The city wants a stronger commitment from Sturm to make sure the teams stay at the arena even if Sturm were to die.
Because the ownership situation is not yet resolved, Issel cannot make certain personnel decisions, he said.
"There are probably some things that we would be doing, or at least there are some things that we would consider doing, if we knew what the ownership situation was going to be," Issel said. "So, just like everybody else, we're going to have to await the outcome and then go from there."
Ascent on Wednesday gave Sturm and the city until Monday evening to reach an agreement, and said it would give the parties two days after that to finalize terms of the deal and give the City Council time to vote.
Issel said the Nuggets' pending personnel decisions require ownership involvement because his goal of putting the 12 best players in uniform regardless of contract status could conflict with a sale-driven corporate goal of keeping costs as low as possible.
Issel would like to keep three players now on the injured list: forward Popeye Jones, Chauncey Billups and point guard Chris Herren. But making room for them on the roster creates problems, Issel said.
He said he could make room for two of them by cutting his two minimum-salary contracts. But those contracts belong to Ryan Bowen and Roy Rogers, who have been valuable to the team so far.
Complicating the issue is the fact that the three players who got the least playing time in the first four games of the season all have guaranteed contracts. Johnny Traylor, Bryant Stith and Cory Alexander are due roughly $9 million this season and more than $16 million in future years.
"It's my understanding if any kind of basketball decision has to be made right now, it has to be agreed upon by Mr. Sturm and by Ascent," Issel said. "I was told that a number of weeks ago and I haven't heard anything that changes that, so I'm assuming whatever I do now has to be agreed with both parties."
Meanwhile, Jones and Herren will be ready and eligible to join
the active roster for Sunday's game at Seattle.