Kroenke: Nuggets looking at upgrading practice facility, adding d-league affiliate

Young roster needs more space, both literally and figuratively.

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Image Credit: Steve Nehf, Getty Images

DENVER — Earlier this week, the Philadelphia 76ers unveiled their brand new, 125 thousand square foot practice facility.

The building, which cost more than $82 million, has set a new standard for facilities in the NBA. It features offices and conference rooms to house all the team’s basketball operations, two full courts, eight different shooting areas, a 30-foot lap pool with glass walls, and a 2,800 square foot locker room.

The Denver Nuggets, meanwhile, don’t enjoy quite those accommodations.

Since the Pepsi Center opened in October 1999, the Nuggets have housed all of their facilities, including their practice court and training room, in their home arena.

Their locker room, located on the ground floor at Pepsi Center, pales in comparison to the sprawling metropolis where the 76ers now come to work, and their practice facility and training room, both located on the second floor, are so small that the team can’t even hold training camp there. They have to travel to the U.S. Olympic facility in Colorado Springs or the campus of Creighton University in Omaha, instead.

However, that might change in the not-so future.

During Nuggets’ media day Monday, President and Governor Josh Kroenke, son of owner Stan Kroenke, said the team had indeed discussed building a new practice facility like the state-of-the-art complex constructed in Philadelphia.

“I think state-of-the-art is very relative term,” Kroenke said. “State-of-the-art is moving faster than state-of-the-art ever has I think. When this building was built and when this practice facility was built in this building it was state-of-the-art. Things have evolved since then and I’ve had a few conversations with a few people to start thinking about something like that for the Nuggets and for the Avalanche as well. With these guys help sitting next to me I think we’re going to be able to do that in the near future and I look forward to providing an update on that when I have the opportunity to.”

Kroenke’s ownership company, Kroenke Sports Enterprises, owns essentially all of the land surrounding Pepsi Center, including Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, and has ample room to build a new facility should they decide to do so.

Not only are the Nuggets considering adding more space physically, they’re thinking about adding more room figuratively as well—along their roster, that is.

Denver is one of just eight NBA teams who do not have a direct relationship with a d-league affiliate. They also have one of basketball’s youngest rosters.

At this level of competition, there are only five spots on the floor at a given time and just 48 minutes to doll out a night. As a result, first round draft picks like Malik Beasley likely won’t get much, if any, consistent playing time this season. Having a d-league affiliate would allow players like Beasley, and fellow rookie Juancho Hernangomez, to play valuable minutes regularly and continue developing their game. Kroenke said it was something the Nuggets had discussed.

“There’s been a lot of dialogue about that,” Kroenke said. “As the NBA as a whole continues to evolve, more and more teams are having a direct relationship and we look forward to being one of those teams in the near future.”