One of the more curious storylines heading into the 2018-19 Denver Nuggets season was head coach Michael Malone coaching on the final year of his contract, but that narrative can now be laid to rest.
A source has told Mile High Sports that the Nuggets and head coach Michael Malone have agreed to a contract extension just about six hours before Denver’s regular season begins in Los Angeles against the Clippers. The extension will add an additional two years onto Malone’s current contract which will keep him coaching in Denver through the 2020-21 season.
Before Malone arrived in Denver, the foundation of the franchise was fractured and the organization needed a complete rebuild. The roster needed to be overhauled, a new culture needed to be cultivated, and to accomplish all of these goals, the Nuggets turned to Malone.
Since being hired in 2015-16, a year after the Nuggets won a measly 30 games, Malone has carried the Denver Nuggets all the way up to 46 wins in just three seasons. The Nuggets are now knocking on the door of the playoffs for the first time in five long seasons and Malone’s installation of toughness, a work-man-like attitude, and a winning culture is one of the main overarching reasons as to why Denver is now in their advantageous situation. Plainly put, Malone has much more to do with Denver’s turnaournd than he has been given credit for.
Malone has also done a wonderful job of helping Denver’s young core grow as well. While most people give credit to Nikola Jokic for carrying the Nuggets out of mediocrity, that transition was allowed to happen because Malone gave control of the offense to Jokic and trusted him to produce.
“We are improving and he is improving,” Jokic said when asked about Malone. “He makes us better and we make him better. He feels the game and he knows when he needs to step up or call timeout. I think he did a really good job.”
It is not just Jokic who speaks highly of Malone. Both Gary Harris and Jamal Murray — both who are franchise cornerstones for Denver — value Malone as a coach. Both have great relationships with Malone and both have prospered under his tutelage. Really, every player on the Nuggets’ roster has nothing but great things to say about Malone.
“He helped me out and gave me a chance when people didn’t even think I could play in this league,” Harris explained. “So I got nothing but love for coach. He has been great for us and you can see that as we continue to improve.”
For Malone, he is thankful for the faith that the Kroenke family has shown in him, but he still has his sights on kicking off the 2018-19 season on a positive note in Los Angeles against the Clippers.
“It’s not about me, obviously,” Malone explained after getting his extension. “For the Kroenke family to show that kind of belief in me going forward means the world. The best part is getting the news out now so we can turn the page and get ready for the game tonight.”