Nuggets, Kings clash in California's capital city

( - The Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings will begin their seasons on Wednesday night as stability became a major issue for both squads during the summer months.

The Nuggets earned the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs last season, but were bounced in the first round by the Golden State Warriors.

After the early exit, reigning Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri bolted to run the Toronto Raptors. Last season's Coach of the Year George Karl was sent packing, with ownership concerned his lame-duck status as the coach might be a distraction.

On the court, the Nuggets lost their best player, versatile wing man Andre Iguodala, who signed as a free agent with those same Warriors. Denver dealt starting center Kosta Koufos to the Memphis Grizzlies for bench parts and Danilo Gallinari, the team's second-leading scorer, will be out indefinitely after knee surgery.

Ownership turned to Tim Connelly as the new general manager and he tabbed Brian Shaw, always a trendy name among assistants to be a good head man.

The team brought in veterans Randy Foye and J.J. Hickson to replace some of the missing punch Iguodala and Koufos brought.

But even as the team embarks on a season removed from a franchise-best 57 wins, Shaw has questions that outreach the departures. Ty Lawson, the starting point guard and now the Nuggets best player, has a groin injury and was able to participate in non-contact drills on Tuesday.

"I'm feeling good," he said. "I've just been shooting, putting up a lot of shots, running into shots. No contact, but we'll see."

If Lawson doesn't play against the Kings, Denver will start five new players from last season's opening-night lineup. Hickson and Anthony Randolph are expected to start at the forwards along with JaVale McGee at center, Foye and either Andre Miller or Nate Robinson at the point.

Kenneth Faried won't be starting. He tweaked his hamstring in the preseason, and while he's expected to play, Shaw won't start him.

The Kings actually enjoyed a stable offseason, all things considered.

The first hurdle was to stay in Sacramento. The NBA rejected a relocation attempt to Seattle, and the Maloofs are no longer the primary owners. Vivek Ranadive is the new owner. (Shaquille O'Neal is a minority stake-holder.) Ranadive hired Pete D'Allessandro to be the GM and he in turn brought in Mike Malone to coach the team.

Tyreke Evans went to the New Orleans Pelicans, but in exchange, the Kings got back starting point guard Greivis Vasquez. DeMarcus Cousins was signed to an extension as yet another coach will try to get through to the supremely talented, but troubling young center.

Carl Landry was a nice free-agent get for the Kings, but he'll be out of action for months after hip surgery.

The Nuggets have won nine straight over the Kings, including four in a row at Sleep Train Arena.