After the Denver Nuggets 120-115 win over the Sacramento Kings, Torrey Craig spoke to Mile High Sports about multiple topics and one of which was newsworthy.
After being represented by Johnny Foster of JSF Sports since his time back in Australia, Craig told Mile High Sports that he has elected to sign with the Creative Artists Agency where he will be represented by multiple agents who work for CAA, which is the same agency that represents Gary Harris as well as the likes of Chris Paul, Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, Paul George, and many other high-profile NBA players.
Craig is entering a pivotal offseason. He is set to be a restricted free agent at the conclusion of this year, but he has also seen his role diminish in a massive way. Now that the Nuggets are (mostly) healthy, they have 12 legitimate NBA players worthy of playing time and only 10 spots in the rotation to fill. That has led to two of Michael Porter Jr., Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley or Craig without real playing time on a nightly basis.
Recently, it has been Craig who has had to sacrifice, which seems surprising considering that Craig was Denver’s starting small forward in 11 playoff games last season as well as an integral part of their rotation for the majority of the 2018-19 season.
This season, Craig — who averaged 20 minutes per contest last year — is playing nearly eight minutes less per game. He also has not logged double-digit minutes in a game since December 15th and has played less then five minutes in six of Denver’s last seven games. Overall, Craig has not played at all in 10 of Denver’s 32 games and has logged less than 10 minutes in 20 of their 32 games. That is far from the role that he likely envisioned playing.
As to be expected, with Craig’s drop in minutes, the rest of his numbers have also suffered. He averaging less points, rebounds, and assists this season and, because of his lack of minutes and a rhythm, his shooting percentages have fallen off a cliff. Craig is shooting just 39.1% from the field and an even worse 23.3% from the three-point line this year.
As things currently stand, the Nuggets could be staring at their first luxury tax bill since the 2009-10 season. Denver could have as many as eight players — Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee, Jerami Grant, Hernangomez, Beasley, and Craig as well as both Monte Morris and Jarred Vanderbilt — who are either entering free agency or looking for an extension at the end of this season. Both Vanderbilt and Morris are on non-guaranteed deals that could be extended this offseason while Jerami Grant has a $9.3 million player option that he will seemingly opt out of.
Hypothetically, if the Nuggets cut both Morris and Vanderbilt while also letting Beasley, Craig, Hernangomez, Grant, Millsap, and Plumlee all walk away to other teams, Denver would only be able to open up about $11 million in cap space — and $41 million below the luxury tax line — with nine roster spots to fill out a full 15-man team.
Because of that reality, there is a chance that Craig is playing for a new team during the 2020-21 season.
That is likely why Craig switched from the much smaller JSF Sports to CAA Sports, who have vast network of connections and relationships around the National Basketball Association. If the Nuggets do not have the wiggle room financially to build a deal that Craig feels comfortable agreeing to, he now has the resources to test the restricted free agent market in a way that he has not been able to in his time at the NBA level.
Craig is a defensive demon who can defend four, if not five, different positions on the floor while also adding endless energy and hustle. His offensive rebounding is elite for a perimeter player and there will almost assuredly be teams who are interested in prying him away from the Nuggets in restricted free agency.