Former Florida Gator Corey Brewer is looking for stability as he continues to grow as an NBA player.
By CHRIS TOMASSONFS Florida
DENVER —Corey Brewer isn’t on a 10-day contract. The way he talks, it sure sounds as if he is.
Brewer hasn’t exactly had much stability the past few years. In February 2011, with Brewer due to become a free agent at the end of the season, Minnesota dealt him to New York in the three-team trade that featured Denver sending Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks.
Brewer was waived the following month and then picked up by Dallas, which signed him to a three-year, $7 million contract. That sounded like stability.
Nope. After finishing 2010-11 with Mavericks, which included barely playing in the postseason during their championship run, Brewer was traded before last season to Denver in a salary dump.
In two Nuggets seasons, Brewer has become a key cog off the bench. So can the six-year veteran from the University of Florida finally breath easy?
“You never have no stability until you have a deal,’’ said Brewer, who will be a free agent after the season. “So right now I’m just living in the moment.’’
If Brewer keeps having moments like he did Sunday at the Pepsi Center, he won’t have to worry about a lack of stability come this summer. Brewer had 26 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, in Denver’s 121-118 overtime win over Oklahoma City.
In typical Brewer fashion, the mild-mannered swingman didn’t get too excited about his big game. He didn’t issue or respond to a single tweet about it on @CoreyBrewer13.
“When I make a couple shots, my game gets that much better,’’ Brewer said. “Just trying to help the team win and we got a win.’’
Indications are Brewer already has provided enough help for the Nuggets to want to re-sign him this summer. Brewer said he would like to stay in Denver and avoid the possibility of a fourth team in four seasons.
“Yeah, I’d like to be here,’’ said Brewer, making $3.24 million this season. “I like the fans, I like the city, I like the system, I like (coach) George Karl’s system, I like my teammates. So it’s a good situation for me.''
Brewer is averaging 11.3 points to raise his career average to 9.2. But Brewer still doesn’t admit to satisfaction with his NBA career after being the No. 7 pick in the 2007 NBA draft.
“I still haven’t proved I can play here. I still don’t play that much,’’ said Brewer, who is averaging 23.7 minutes.
Karl would like to play Brewer more. But the coach has a very deep team, one that features nine players averaging 18 or more minutes.
It looked as if a squeeze might have been put on Brewer’s minutes when Nuggets swingman Wilson Chandler returned Jan. 13 against Golden State after missing 30 straight games due to a hip problem. But after seeing an initial dip in minutes, Brewer has been too good lately to keep off the court.
Brewer had 17 points and three steals in 28 minutes last Friday against Washington. Against the Thunder, Brewer shot 9-of-17, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range and had six rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes.
Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson calls Brewer “our wild card’’ because he can help the team in so many different ways. When it comes to scoring, Brewer has four games this season of 20 or more points, including 27 on 6-of-7 3-point shooting in a win last month over the Lakers.
“Every team needs guys like Corey from the standpoint of not only statistical production, but the way he just plays the game with energy,’’ Karl said. “He just plays the right way. He plays with pride and he plays with intensity.’’
Off the court, though, Brewer is one of the least intense NBA players you will find. He’s an unassuming guy who grew up in rural Portland, Tenn., population 12,000.
“He smiles all the time,’’ Lawson said. “He can be mad but he’s still smiling… He’s as country as they come. Most guys in the NBA will have a Range Rover. He bought a 4-by-4 pickup truck. That’s all he drives. That explains how country he is.’’
When Brewer was in the fifth grade, he got a pet goat named Billy. He said Billy still resides in the same spot behind mother Glenda Brewer's house in Portland.
Brewer was extremely close to his father, who died last year at 68. Brewer said he still greatly misses Ellis "PeeWee'' Brewer, who had diabetes that led to severe health problems near the end of his life.
“It’s been tough, but you get through it,’’ Brewer said of his father dying. “I think of him every day, but I know he’s in a better place… My sophomore year (at Florida) he had one of his legs removed. My junior year, the other one was removed. Before my third in the (NBA), he went blind.’’
Brewer was able to help keep up his father’s spirits by doing plenty of winning. He won NCAA titles with Florida as a sophomore in 2006 and junior in 2007, when he was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. Then, even though he played in just six of 21 playoff games and not at all in the Finals, he added an NBA title with the Mavericks.
Not surprisingly, Brewer isn’t the kind of guy who flashes his rings around.
“I never wear them,’’ he said. “I keep them in a lock box at my mom’s house. They’re so big and gaudy, you really don’t have time to wear them.’’
Brewer is one of just six active players to have won an NCAA and NBA title ring. The others are Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers of Miami, Richard Hamilton and Nazr Mohammed of Chicago and Jason Terry of Boston.
Brewer this spring should be back in the playoffs with the Nuggets (25-18). At least last season he played in every postseason game for them.
“I’m happy he’s finally found a home (in Denver),’’ said Golden State forward David Lee, Brewer’s Florida teammate in 2004-05.