Denver Nuggets Orlando Bubble Practice Day 1: Three Takeaways

by Alex Labidou Staff Writer

The Nuggets held their first official practice since the NBA hiatus started on March 11 and there were plenty of storylines to emerge out of Orlando. Here are three takeaways from the Zoom media call: 
Life in the bubble: 
There have been varying reports on the quality of arrangements in the NBA’s bubble— here’s looking at you Rajon Rondo! But on a serious note, head coach Michael Malone lauded the NBA’s setup in Orlando, especially considering the challenges at hand. 
“We’ve been here for four days and are getting into a routine, getting used to being here. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not nearly as bad as some people are making it out to be,” Malone said. “The practice facilities have been great and more importantly, the guys that we have here, they’ve bought in. We’re here and we’re finding ways to be productive and have meaningful work and practices get done.” 
He added, “It’s hard being away from my wife and girls, like it is for all of us, but as far as this bubble goes and what that’s like, I think the NBA has done an outstanding job.”
Malone revealed he’s keeping a daily journal of his experiences in the bubble, which he joked might be on sale one day. Could be an interesting read. 

Paul adjusting to a new timetable 
A second-rounder usually doesn’t last in the NBA without a successful routine. That’s especially the case for Paul Millsap, who has been a four-time All-Star in an accomplished 14-year-run in the league. So, the veteran forward acknowledged there are some challenges in playing in the summer, a time where the league is in its offseason. 
“We’re not used to playing with each other around this time of the year,” Millsap said. “We’re used to doing other things around this time of the year, but once we got back on the court, everything went back to normal.” 
Despite unfamiliar timing, Millsap said the lengthy quarantine period since the start of the hiatus has ensured he’s been able to stay in top shape. 
“It’s been actually pretty easy, quarantining at home, you don’t really have much to do but workout.” Millsap said. “My body feels great, I feel like I’m in really good shape…A lot of guys have been working, coming in and training over this break so a lot of guys are in pretty good shape.” 
Tyler is happy to be back

Tyler Cook was one of the Nuggets’ standouts during last year’s Summer League, with the team’s tournament coach Jordi Fernandez praising the undrafted rookie out of Iowa as “NBA talent.” Unfortunately, for the 22-year-old, he was one of the team’s preseason cuts as the team had a surplus of big men on the roster. 
With P.J. Dozier’s contract being converted from to a two-way contract, it opened up space for a return for Cook, who spent some time with the Cavaliers during the season. The 6-foot-8 enforcer is excited to return to the Mile High City. 
“It’s been a while since I’ve been around this group, but I’m just happy to be around an organization that appreciates me and that I appreciate.” 
Cook played in 11 games for the Cavs before the organization decided not to re-up when his second 10-day contract expired. After spending some time with the Canton Charge and the Oklahoma City Blue of the G League, the Nuggets reached out to Cook’s representatives about a potential return. 
“It was super quick. My agent called me the day [before I signed] and told me Denver might be an option and stand by your phone. He called me the next day and said ‘Denver’s a done deal.’ Next morning, I was on a flight…I’m happy to be back with this team.” 
Outside of the court, Cook has joined his NBA counterparts in trying to make an impact on social justice. The St. Louis native launched an auction to help his hometown. 

“The reason why I did it was due to when all of the talk about racial injustice in our country kicked off…I wanted to figure out some way to give back to not only my community but the families that have been affected,” Cook explained. 
Cook initially thought of raising funds by using one of his Iowa jerseys, but then decided to use his first NBA jersey instead. 
“I thought about what could make the most money [for those causes] and that was my first NBA jersey. I auctioned off my very first NBA jersey from Denver, from training camp. We raised just over $6,500 dollars and donated that to a bail fund in St. Louis and [Color Of Change] as well. So that was kind of the motivation behind that and we’re still trying to find ways while we’re in the bubble to keep this conversation [going] and making a difference. That [the auction] was the first step in my personal journey of trying to make a difference in my community.” 


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