Merger Mania

The Nugs strive to prove that their Melo-Kmart blend is the ticket to glory.

Bzdelik's $1.5 million job may be in jeopardy, all right. But if Denver doesn't improve on last year's encouraging 43-39 season and earn another trip to the playoffs, Vandeweghe may turn out to be the real fall guy -- despite the fact that a pre-season survey of NBA general managers found the Nuggets "the most fun team to watch."

Meanwhile, they must contend in the new Northwest Division with powerhouse Minnesota, 7-3 Utah and surprising young Seattle, which tops the charts at 9-2.

Back at Altitude -- yes, thanks to an eleventh-hour deal between Kroenke and Comcast, you can now watch the games on cable TV, with good-guy Bill Hanzlik, a reminder of some sorry Nuggets teams past, doing the commentary -- it looks like the Nuggets' season will make or break in the front court, unless Jason Kidd drops in from heaven or Boykins has a sudden growth spurt. The injuries are healing, the chemistry experiment is going better, and for the moment, Buzz has his boys in renewal mode. Bottom line: The Nuggets are a 5-5 team with a terrible road history and a swing through Washington, Toronto, New York, Philly, Boston, Miami and Orlando in the offing. If the Melo-Marts can get through that nightmare with their heads attached and their hearts still beating, go ahead and print up the playoff tickets.

Believe it: The shape of a season can be determined before Santa even scolds the elves.

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