2018 Denver Nuggets free agency rumor tracker

Jun 16, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone (center), general manager GM Tim Connelly (left) and president Josh Kroenke (right) react to a media question during a press conference at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

July 1st represents the start of the new NBA calendar year as well as the start of NBA free agency. In preparation of all of the chaos and confusion that is the lead up to the beginning of free agency, a running list of rumors surrounding the Denver Nuggets will be kept below.

Keep checking back to this free agency tracker for all rumors that involve the Nuggets.


Report: Houston Rockets are interested in Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler

Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (4) guards Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center.
Feb 25, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (4) guards Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

According to Rockets Wire Insider Kelly Iko, the Houston Rockets are interested in Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler.

It has been known that Chandler is available via trade as the Nuggets look to dump salary and the Rockets now have a need on the wing. After former Rocket Trevor Ariza signed a one-year deal with the Phoenix Suns, Houston is looking for a replacement, and Chandler could fit that bill.

After exercising his $12.8 million player option last Friday, Chandler is now on a one-year deal and would be a huge boost to a Rockets team that missed the NBA finals by one game last season.

As Iko notes, this isn’t the first time the Rockets have tried to acquire Chandler as they also tried to acquire him before the trade deadline last year. According to Iko, “Chandler, who previously played for Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni in New York, was a target for Houston during last year’s trade deadline, although a deal with Denver never materialized.”

In an attempt to cut salary for luxury tax purposes, moving on from Chandler’s $12.8 million could be big for the Nuggets. It would also pave the way for Will Barton to be the starting small forward of the Nuggets going into next season. According to ESPN Insider Chris Haynes, Barton’s long-term contract is expected to come with a promotion to starting small forward, and moving on from Chandler would certainly pave the way for that to come to fruition.

 

 

 


Nikola Jokic, The Nuggets Serbian star, has agreed to a five-year max contract with Denver

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after getting ejected in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at the Pepsi Center.
Dec 26, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after getting ejected in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Sources tell Mile High Sports that the Denver Nuggets and Nikola Jokic will agree to a five-year maximum contract worth $145.6 million once the 2018 free agency period begins. There are no player or team options on the contract at all according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was first on the report.

Nikola Jokic was the catalyst that helped carry the Nuggets from bottoming-out just four years ago to rising up the NBA ranks as fast as any young team. Because of his ascension to stardom, the Nuggets repaid him by declining his measly $1.6 million team option and instead gave him a max contract that will set him and his family up for life while keeping Jokic in Denver for at least the next five years.

Jokic, who averaged 18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game last season, has become one of the most polarizing and productive players in all of basketball. In a league that is controlled by star talent, the Nuggets have their top-25 player now locked up for the next five years.


Report: Nuggets, Will Barton will agree to a four-year contract worth $54 million

Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) reacts after a play in overtime against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Pepsi Center.
Dec 15, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) reacts after a play in overtime against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

After weeks of speculation, Will Barton, who is an unrestricted free agent until he signs on the dotted line, will seemingly not be leaving the Denver Nuggets regardless of luxury tax implications after agreeing to a four-year contract worth $54 million, sources tell Mile High Sports. Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports was first to report the deal.

Not only did Barton get a four-year deal that pays $54 million, but he also was able to get a player option in the fourth year according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. As a cherry on top, he will also become the starting small forward according to Chris B. Haynes of ESPN. Considering the market, that is one massive deal for Barton, who has earned every penny.

Not only did Barton get a four-year deal that pays $54 million, but he also was able to get a player option in the fourth year according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Considering the market, that is one massive deal for Barton, who has earned every penny.

Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report that the Nuggets and Barton had “strong momentum” on their way towards a deal that could be decided on very quickly after the 2018 NBA free agency period begins. This report from Mannix is consistent with Wojnarowski’s intel which does lead many to believe that this deal is truly on its way.

Barton’s reported four-year deal that could be worth north of $50 million is quite the large contract. Denver could suddenly be more than $22 million into the luxury tax after giving Nikola Jokic a max contract and Gary Harris’ extension kicks in. Now, the Nuggets likely will begin shedding salary. According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Nuggets not only have Kenneth Faired, Wilson Chandler, and Darrell Arthur on the trade block, but could also added Mason Plumlee to that group as well.

It seems that the free agency period could be a very active time for the Nuggets.


Report: Nuggets may have to look to trade Mason Plumlee to clear money off of their books

Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee (24) reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at the Pepsi Center.
Feb 23, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee (24) reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Denver Nuggets trade-block list may be expanding. While the likes of Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur, and Kenneth Faried being on the trade block is not breaking news, it is surprising to see Mason Plumlee’s name pop up as a potential candidate to be traded.

It makes sense to trade Plumlee financially, but Tim Connelly and Michael Malone both value Plumlee a lot. He was the centerpiece when Denver traded Jusuf Nurkic out of Denver and the Nuggets gave him a three-year contract worth $41 million in the 2017 offseason. Still, with Denver looking to give Will Barton a new contract, they need to shed salary somewhere and Plumlee could be the player to get the axe.

Denver is projected to be over $10 million into the luxury tax after Jokic gets his max contract and Gary Harris’ extension kicks in. Clearing the final two years, $26.95 million of Plumlee’s deal would go a long ways to opening up more financial flexibility for Denver to take advantage of. The difficult part would be finding a team that would be willing to take Plumlee’s contract. Denver would likely have to attach an asset to Plumlee to entice a team to take the final two years of his deal considering how few teams have cap space to absorb him into.

Even with Denver potentially adding Plumlee to the trade-block list, the odds of the Nuggets finding a trade partner to move his contract seem quite low.


Report: There is “strong momentum” between Will Barton, Nuggets to get a deal done quickly after free agency begins

Feb 27, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has reported that the Denver Nuggets and unrestricted free agent guard Will Barton could come to terms on a contract that could be completed quickly after the start of the 2018 NBA free agency period.

Every indication pointed towards Barton and the Nuggets coming to terms on a new contract, but for it to happen somewhere near 12:01 AM as free agency begins is much quicker than expected.

Barton has been incredibly important to the Nuggets in so many different ways. He has always been able to score in large amounts when Denver needed it, but he also filled many other roles in 2017-18. He filled in as the backup point guard, started at small forward, made plays for his teammates when the team needs him to, was always able to get his own shot at will, and even solidified himself as the emotional leader in the Nuggets locker room.

If Barton and the Nuggets do come to an agreement on a new contract, it will without a doubt help the Nuggets in their pursuit of ending the organizations’ five-year playoff drought.


Report: Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler has been made available in trade talks

Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) reaches for the ball while being guarded by Miami Heat forward Josh Richardson (0) during the first half at American Airlines Arena.
Mar 19, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) reaches for the ball while being guarded by Miami Heat forward Josh Richardson (0) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

According to David Aldridge of TNT, the Denver Nuggets have made Wilson Chandler available in trade talks.

Chandler recently opted into the final year of is contract, which will pay him just under $13 million next season. Trading Chandler would give the Nuggets more financial flexibility to help them re-sign Will Barton as well as any other additions the Nuggets may try to make in free agency. A trade of Chandler would put the Nuggets in a bit of a problem at the small forward position as their only small forward left on the roster would be Juancho Hernangomez.

A Chandler trade would potentially open the door for Michael Porter Jr. to earn more playing time if he is healthy going into next season, but any trade of Chandler will likely be financially motived.

Chandler gives the Nuggets a veteran presence on the wing, but he could also could be valuable to other contenders around the league. With just one year left on his deal, teams may be more accepting of the $13 million cap hit as long as the Nuggets add a sweetener to the deal.


Report: Nuggets interested in perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford (11) guards Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center.
Dec 20, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford (11) guards Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, the Denver Nuggets, among four other teams, are expected to show interest in perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford once free agency kicks off on July 1st.

Here is the excerpt on who will be interested in Crawford’s play from Spear’s article.

“The New Orleans Pelicans, Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Nuggets are expected to show interest in Crawford, a source told The Undefeated.”

Crawford has his eyes on a very particular sort of role. He understands how to come off of the bench and immediately produce for his team, but how symbiotic the balance is between himself and the team is important to him. In the same piece from Spears, Crawford was quoted speaking about how important his fit on his next team is to him.

“For me, fit and situation may be even more important, because coming off the bench, you have to be able to make something happen for your team in a smaller amount of time. So I truly have to have the right fit, and that was part of the reason I opted out.”

The Nuggets bench unit, with neither of Will Barton or Torrey Craig on the roster, is some mixture of Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Trey Lyles, and Mason Plumlee. That group desperately needs a leader, someone who can get their shot whenever they want to, and someone who can space the floor. Crawford can do all three of those things.

If Denver cannot find a way to bring Barton back into the fold, Crawford makes some sense as a replacement. Crawford lacks the ability to make plays for others and is a less efficient shooter than Barton, but in terms of bringing a volume scorer off of the bench who can handle the ball and get his own shot, it makes sense for Denver to show interest in Crawford in free agency.


Report: Nikola Jokic’s rumored five-year max contract is a flat five years with no team or player option on it

Dec 26, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after getting ejected in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprising twist, Zach Lowe of ESPN has reported that the rumored max contract for Nikola Jokic is set to be a flat five-year deal worth $145.6 million with no player or team options.

Here is the full excerpt from Lowe’s mega free agency preview.

“Denver’s five-year deal for Jokic carries no player option in Jokic’s fifth year, sources says. It is a straight five-year contract — something Denver justifiably wanted as a concession for declining Jokic’s cheapo 2018-19 option and giving him an immediate raise.”

If true, that shows that there have been positive conversations between the Nuggets and Jokic; including his agent Misko Raznatopvic. Jokic is likely happy that the Nuggets are giving him a raise this season instead of picking up the cheap option that Lowe referenced in the excerpt above. Because of that show of good will from the Nuggets to Jokic, he is repaying the favor by not asking for a player options on the later years of his contract. This is essentially a marriage between the Nuggets and Jokic that will last five full years barring a trade.

This deal would be massive for the Nuggets organization. Locking in one of the top-25 players in the entirety of the NBA to a five-year contract gives Denver their star in a star driven league.


Report: Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers have discussed a trade to help Denver clear money while sending a first-round pick to Los Angeles

Nov 19, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) blocks a shot by Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson (6) in the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

According to Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post, the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers “are discussing a potential deal” that is centered around the Nuggets shedding salary while also sending a first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers. That pick would help the Lakers put together a trade package to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs.

Here is the full excerpt from Bontemps’ story for the Washington Post.

“In an attempt to sweeten the pot, multiple sources said the Lakers and Denver Nuggets are discussing a potential deal that would see Los Angeles take back bad money for a draft pick. The Nuggets, who will be deep into the luxury tax after re-signing restricted free agent center Nikola Jokic next month, have about $34 million in expiring contracts for Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur and Wilson Chandler to send out in possible deals.”

With Nikola Jokic getting his max contract very shortly and Gary Harris’ contract extension kicking in once the NBA calendar flips to a new year on July 1st, the Nuggets are looking at being somewhere around $10 million into the luxury tax prior to attempting to keep Will Barton, who is an unrestricted free agent, and Torrey Craig, who is a restricted free agent. For Denver to even retain their own players without accumulating a massive tax bill, they need to move at least one of Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur, or Kenneth Faried.

This proposed deal does make sense for Denver, but assisting the Lakers in their potential acquisition of Leonard — a trade that could lure LeBron James to the Western Conference —  is a tough pill to swallow.


Denver Nuggets expected to make a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Torrey Craig

Denver Nuggets guard Torrey Craig (3) in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at the Pepsi Center.
Jan 25, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Torrey Craig (3) in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets two-way contract player Torrey Craig, who was a staple in their rotation for much of the second half of the season, has been tendered a qualifying offer from the Nuggets, a league source has told Mile High Sports.

Sending a qualifying offer to Craig does not ensure that he will be on the roster for the 2018-19 season, but it does allow the Nuggets to match any offer that Craig receives to keep him in Denver. Essentially, the Nuggets control their own destiny when it comes to keeping Craig in Denver.

With multiple teams already interested in Craig’s services, Denver will have competition to keep him with the Nuggets. Craig’s athleticism, motor, defensive intensity, and budding offensive skill set makes him a valuable commodity being that he is 6-foot-6, can defend multiple positions, and also stretch the floor by hitting open threes.

Craig averaged 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in his 16.1 minutes a night stretched over 39 games including five starts, but his impact went much further than that. Even when Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone drastically shortened his rotation at the end of the year, Craig was consistently involved in Malone’s rotation.

With Denver $9 million into the luxury tax prior to attempting to sign Will Barton, it is likely that the Nuggets will need to clear salary before trying to sign Craig to a deal. The Nuggets value Craig and would rather keep him in Denver instead of losing him to another team.

Regardless, it seems Craig has solidified himself as more than just another two-way contract player. As Malone has said multiple times, Craig is an NBA player — not just a G-League or two-way contract player — and he proved it throughout the 2017-18 season. Now, it is time for Craig to find his first full NBA contract.


Will Barton is expected to be a free agency target of the Indiana Pacers

Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Pepsi Center.
Mar 7, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

As free agency rumors begin to heat up, the name that will likely pop up the most in relation to the Denver Nuggets is none other than Will Barton, who will be an unrestricted free agent with many suitors.

Rumors surrounding Barton have already started with Chris B. Haynes of ESPN reporting that the Indiana Pacers are expected to have Barton as one of their targets in free agency. The Pacers will be able to create up to about $42 million in cap space according to Albert Nahmad, which means they have the money to give Barton a hefty payday.

Every indication points to the Nuggets wanting to keep Barton in Denver, but with a potential $9 million tax bill upcoming after Nikola Jokic receives his potential max contract and Gary Harris’ extension kicks in, retaining Barton could become exorbitantly expensive. Finding a way to move one or multiple of Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, or Darrell Arthur would go a long ways towards helping Denver’s short-term financial constraints.

Regardless, Barton has said that he enjoys Denver and appreciates the organization for giving him a chance, but the Pacers could throw a big payday his way while also a shot at a starting spot. Denver is going to have quite a bit of competition of keeping Barton in Denver.


Denver Nuggets decline their team option on Nikola Jokic’s contract making him a restricted free agent

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center.
Mar 9, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, the Denver Nuggets have officially declined Nikola Jokic’s team option making him a restricted free agent and in line to receive a max contract.

With Jokic being a restricted free agent, the Nuggets can match any offer given to him to ensure that he remains in Denver for years to come. If Denver had decided to exercise their team option and just pay Jokic $1.6 million for the 2018-19 season, he would become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 and the Nuggets would not have the ability to match any contract offer thrown his way. Jokic could leave and Denver would not be able to do anything about it.

Jokic is now in line to sign what will likely be a five-year contact worth $146.5 million. With that max contract, Jokic will make $25.25 million in the first year and by his final season in 2022-23, he will be making $33.3 million.

The Nuggets are taking steps to lock up their best player for half of a decade. For a team that has been perceived as frugal, Denver seems willing to spend to keep their core intact. Tim Connelly told the media after draft night that Jokic will be in Denver for a long time. This is the first step towards that goal.

“Nikola is going to be here a long, long time,” Connelly said. “Whatever we do, we are going to ensure that he is here as long as possible. When that moment happens, we are going to talk to Nikola, his brothers, his representation and he will be in denver for a long, long time — he will be buying here.”


Wilson Chandler will opt into final year of his contract

Apr 3, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) in the first quarter against the Indiana Pacers at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Sources confirmed to Mile High Sports that Wilson Chandler has opted into the final year of his contract. He will make $12.8 million in 2018-19. Chris Haynes of ESPN was first on the report.

Chandler is in the final year of his four-year contract worth $46.5 million. Now, with both Chandler and Arthur opting into their final contract years, the Nuggets are projected to be over $9 million into the luxury tax once they also give Nikola Jokic his max contract and Gary Harris’ extension kicks in.

Chandler averaged 10 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from three-point distance.

Even with the Nuggets drafting highly-regarded Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, there is no assurance that he will be ready to play at any point this season, let alone be able to play at the beginning of the season. Having Chandler back in the fold — while expensive and restricting as it may be — does give the Nuggets some badly-needs wing depth with the potential of also losing Barton in free agency.


Denver Nuggets’ Darrell Arthur will opt into player option

Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur (00) shoots the ball over Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) in the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Feb 10, 2018; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur (00) shoots the ball over Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) in the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, sources have confirmed to Mile High Sports that Denver Nuggets power forward Darrell Arthur has elected to opt into the final year of his contract by picking up his player option that will pay him $7.4 million during the 2018-19 NBA season. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports was first on the report.

Arthur averaged just 2.8 points per game last year with the Nuggets and played in only 19 games while accumulating a minuscule 141 total minutes of playing time. Arthur signed a three-year contract with Denver on July 9th, 2016 that was worth a total of $23 million. This will be the final year of Arthur’s contact.

Arthur was expected to be the first domino to fall prior to the kick off of the 2018 NBA free agency period being that he barely played last year and still had $7.4 million that he could make while serving essentially as a player coach and a veteran leader. Arthur was one of Michael Malone’s most important veteran confidants on the roster. He was also on the Nuggets’ player panel that Malone created to be a bridge between the players and coaching staff. Arthur’s value lies much more in what he brings off the floor than on it.

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