Michael Malone drops painful NBA Finals admission after Nuggets exit

Tony Nguyen | Denver Nuggets
June 8, 2024

A few weeks ago the Denver Nuggets season came to an abrupt end. The Nuggets were expected to make a serious run at defending their championship title. Injuries and exhaustion would end up derailing the Nuggets in the playoffs, and they would be eliminated in the second round.

It hasn’t been long, but the Nuggets have had some time to sit back and reflect on their season. According to Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone, everything is still a bit painful. In the Nuggets’ end-of-season press conference, Malone told reporters that he had no intentions of watching the conference finals games live.

When talking to Jim Rome, Malone echoed his statement and isn’t planning on watching the NBA Finals matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics either.

“I will definitely watch the games at some point,” Malone told Rome. “You can always learn. I learned from my father throughout the many years that he’s been a huge impact on me, is that you’re always looking and learning. And the minute you stop learning, you’re not getting any better. Right now, I have a hard time sitting there watching it because I want to be there. I want to be coaching the Nuggets in the NBA Finals like we did last year as we won our first championship in Nuggets history. [That is] something that we hope to repeat in the very near future. But it’s still a little bit too raw for me right now to sit there and watch those games.”

Despite having little viewing interest in the playoff games, Malone still credited both the Mavericks and the Celtics for their efforts.

“I give Jason Kidd and what Dallas has done a ton of credit. Luka [Doncic], Kyrie [Irving], all the moves that they made. I give Joe Mazzula and Brad Stephens a ton of credit in Boston. Those two teams deserve to be there.”

Unexpected playoff exit means back to the drawing board for the Nuggets

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone calls out a play to his team against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first half during game three of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff matchup between the Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves felt like a heavyweight bout between two boxers. The series was stretched to seven games, and both teams exchanged blows. The Timberwolves would have the final blow, winning Game 7 and eliminating the Nuggets.

Emotions were obviously swirling throughout the Nuggets facility. Despite the season coming to an unfortunate end, the Nuggets have turned the page to the next chapter. They will now enter the offseason looking to gear up for another championship run next season.

“It wasn’t the outcome we all wanted. We realize that,” Malone told reporters at the end-of-year press conference.”But I still have a tremendous amount of faith and confidence in our group across the board. And to sit up here with Josh and Calvin and for us to be united and on the same page with that is really all that matters.”

Thankfully for the Nuggets, the core of their roster will stay mostly intact. This won’t be a rebuild offseason for the Nuggets. Rather, it’ll be the Nuggets finding some of the missing puzzle pieces to their roster. With a superstar like Nikola Jokic on the team, every year the Nuggets will be gunning for a championship.

“You have the best player in the world, and you have a responsibility to him and the group to try and go for it,” said Nuggets President Josh Kroenke. “So, for Nikola, for Jamal [Murray], for Michael [Porter Jr], for everybody that we’ve kind of grown and developed over the course of time, I think that’s kind of our responsibility.”