“Mile High City, Baby!” The familiar war cry coined by former Nugget Bones Hyland is now a distant memory as Bizzy’s relationship with the organization publicly soured ahead of his trading. Hyland was moved by Denver to the Clippers for almost nothing, only two future 2nd round picks.
While Bones had consistency issues with Denver towards the end of his tenure, he was still a seemingly valuable bench player. However, the drama around the trade and the low returns Denver received likely indicate why the Nuggets had to let him go.
The Beginning of the End
Earlier in January, Hyland was seen rejecting the outstretched hand of his coach Michael Malone while the point guard made his way to his bench spot. Malone would talk to Hyland briefly, with both parties claiming after the game that it was a regular player-coach interaction. This raised some eyebrows, and the situation escalated when the Nuggets faced the 76ers in a Saturday matchup on TNT.
The game obviously had large implications, featuring two teams that have become rivals in the last few seasons. The Nuggets held a 15-point lead but began to crumble, partly due to the play of Bones. He would go 4-10 in 21 minutes, including only sinking one of six 3-pointers attempted. Frustratingly, most of the 3’s he attempted were from Curry range and at ill-advised times.
Speculation about a rift between Hyland and the Nuggets was then fueled by the fact that Bones had unfollowed the Nuggets’ social media and removed “Nuggets Point Guard” from his Instagram bio. He would then only play 4 minutes with 0 points as the Nuggets won a hard-fought home game against New Orleans. Hyland sat on the bench for his remaining five games with Denver.
The End and New Beginnings
One thing is clear in the subtext of the Bones trade; He was not getting along with Jamal Murray. After the Nuggets beat Golden State on February 2nd, Jamal Murray made a post-game remark that there was “no room” on the team for players not “accepting their roles.” That was the first game that Bones sat.
The next day, Murray tweeted, “Do not complain about what you didn’t get from the work you didn’t put in..”
Both comments were seen as clear jabs towards Hyland, prompting friends of Bones to respond on Twitter with harsh words for Murray, claiming he only had “one good playoff” among a flurry of expletives.
Most recently, when asked about former teammates Jokic and Murray, Hyland only had good words for Jokic, saying that the Nuggets had “one guy that’s a phenomenal talent.”
The Bones trade may worry some Nuggets fans, especially amid a strengthened post-deadline Western Conference. But team chemistry is a huge factor when it comes to winning championships. If Murray’s insinuations were true, Hyland was not accepting his role on the team; then the Nuggets probably had to trade him.
Hyland is adamant that he’ll do much better with the Clippers, and only time will tell, but the Nuggets are trying to win it all right now, and every man on the roster has to be a team player.
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