Back successful June, it was casual to place the post-season remarks of Nuggets president of hoops operations Tim Connelly.
He could’ve been toeing the enactment enactment oregon simply couldn’t foretell however his roster would shingle retired successful much than a month’s time. But little than a week from the NBA draft, and little than 2 weeks from the commencement of escaped agency, it’s imaginable Connelly’s archetypal comments were prophetic.
“Certainly we person a fistful of escaped agents that we’re hopeful we tin retain,” Connelly said. “We won’t person existent certainty astir what our roster mightiness look similar until post-draft. We truly enjoyed this group. The much guys we tin support the better.”
The Nuggets ain the No. 26 prime successful adjacent Thursday’s draft. Free bureau follows starting connected Aug. 2.
While Nuggets’ absorption is presently heavy successful their draught preparation, having hosted galore workouts for assorted prospects, escaped bureau is besides connected their mind. What the Nuggets bash successful the adjacent respective weeks could find however competitory they are adjacent play astir reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, rising prima Michael Porter Jr., and Jamal Murray, who volition miss overmuch of the 2021-22 play arsenic helium recovers from ACL surgery.
The answers to these 5 questions volition find what benignant of offseason the Nuggets have.
1) Barton and Green coming back? By virtuousness of Will Barton’s July 17 deadline to determine connected his subordinate option, 1 footwear has already dropped. Barton declined his option, making him an unrestricted escaped agent. There are each kinds of reasons, opening with fiscal security, that Barton whitethorn person decided not to workout his option, but determination is communal optimism betwixt the 2 sides, according to league sources, that a woody tin beryllium reached successful escaped agency. This would beryllium a immense triumph for the Nuggets, whose deficiency of backcourt punch was exposed successful the playoffs against Phoenix.
JaMychal Green, 31, has the aforesaid determination that Barton faced. His deadline to prime up his $7.6 cardinal subordinate enactment is Monday. Before diving into Green’s decision, see the remainder of the frontcourt. Veteran Paul Millsap was benched for Game 4 of the Phoenix series. By contrast, Green played astir 18 minutes per crippled against the Suns. Deadline-acquisition JaVale McGee hardly played astatine each earlier Game 4 aft playing conscionable 7 minutes successful the archetypal circular against Portland. McGee and Millsap are unrestricted escaped agents, and Green tin go one. All 3 were taxable to frontcourt philharmonic chairs that nary of them were blessed with. Green, whether helium picks up his subordinate enactment oregon declines it, is the astir logical subordinate to retain. Not lone is helium younger than the different two, but he’s besides the astir valuable. It remains to beryllium seen however productive helium tin beryllium successful Denver erstwhile not sharing a relation with different veteran.
2) How galore roster spots are available? This is the trickiest question and the 1 that volition pass however the Nuggets tin maneuver successful escaped agency. Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, Monte Morris, Michael Porter Jr., Facundo Campazzo, Zeke Nnaji, Bol Bol, P.J. Dozier (non-guaranteed) and Vlatko Cancar (non-guaranteed) relationship for 10 of the 15 roster spots. If Barton and Green some return, perchance connected caller deals, that would bump the roster to 12. The Nuggets’ first-round pick, assuming they clasp onto it, accounts for 13. Then Connelly and GM Calvin Booth would request to determine however to allocate the past 2 roster spots. Without Murray for the bulk of adjacent season, it would marque consciousness to re-sign Austin Rivers, who proved a invaluable pick-up successful April. That’d marque 14, with the anticipation of converting two-way Markus Howard to a modular contract. If each that happened, the Nuggets would person their 15 spots locked in, not counting their 2 two-way contracts. (Shaquille Harrison, a fourth-year player, is nary longer eligible for a two-way contract).
Without wage headdress room, the Nuggets’ champion mechanics for adding endowment this offseason is their mid-level exception, which would let them to motion a subordinate up to $9.5 cardinal annually. They’ve besides got a $5.3 cardinal traded subordinate objection (from the Jerami Grant deal) that would let them to sorb wage without sending backmost matching salary. Denver utilized astir of its MLE connected Green this past season, and could bash truthful again if helium opts out. They could besides re-sign him to a comparable hold without utilizing the MLE, redeeming the objection for different escaped agent. But that’s wherefore the roster spots are truthful significant.
3) What’s up with Bol Bol? Speaking of roster spots, the Nuggets request to prime a lane with Bol Bol. He’ll beryllium heading into the 2nd twelvemonth of his two-year deal, and the Nuggets request to determine what way to instrumentality with him. He struggled to get disconnected the seat past season, seemingly passed implicit by Cancar and Nnaji successful the pecking order. Assuming that’s inactive the case, with Cancar astatine the Olympics and Nnaji bypassing the accidental to play successful Tokyo successful bid to enactment connected his game, Bol doesn’t look to person a defined role. If the Nuggets needed to unfastened a roster spot, possibly some parties would invited a commercialized sooner alternatively than later.
4) Is MPJ successful enactment for a max deal? The Nuggets traditionally reward their ain arsenic soon arsenic possible, meaning Porter has a bully accidental astatine locking successful a immense declaration this summer. After 3 seasons successful the NBA, 2 of which helium was steadfast for, Porter showed tantalizing glimpses of his potential. At 6-foot-10, helium changeable 44.5% from 3-point scope connected implicit six attempts per game. Porter is hold eligible until the commencement of the season. The Nuggets could connection him immoderate mentation of a max deal, with assorted provisions and/or incentives to relationship for his wounded history. It seems acold likelier he’ll get a woody this autumn alternatively than hold until adjacent offseason erstwhile he’d deed restricted escaped agency. If they scope a max deal, the Nuggets volition person much than $90 cardinal tied up successful Porter, Jokic and Murray entering the 2022-’23 play and volition beryllium barreling toward the luxury taxation ($136.6 cardinal this season).
5) What astir Gordon? There’s already a important sunk outgo with Gordon – R.J. Hampton, a aboriginal first-round prime and Gary Harris. When the Nuggets traded for him, they thought they’d person 2 cracks astatine a rubric run. Instead, due to the fact that of Murray’s genu injury, they mightiness lone person one. An hold this summertime would support the Nuggets’ halfway unneurotic for astatine slightest respective years. But if the Nuggets aren’t comfy paying Gordon, say, $20 cardinal a year, the hybrid guardant mightiness play this twelvemonth retired and trial escaped bureau adjacent offseason. Before Murray got hurt, Gordon looked similar the missing piece. How overmuch volition the Nuggets wage to re-create that magic?