Previous teams in the series: Hawks | Nets | Clippers | Timberwolves | Jazz | Hornets | Kings | Pacers | Magic | Suns | Knicks | Grizzlies | Raptors | Mavericks | Celtics | Pelicans | 76ers | Spurs | Blazers | Bucks
A look at the key offseason moves and changes for every team in the league. Next up are the Denver Nuggets.
Continued building through the draft
The Nuggets faced a dilemma many teams wouldn’t mind with three first-round picks and $20 million-plus in cap space.
With nine players under contract, including former draft picks Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic, Nuggets management faced a numbers crunch with the current roster.
Would Denver go the draft-and-stash route with at least two of their picks and focus on free agency with the cap space? Or would Denver prioritize the draft and focus on developing young talent?
When free agency ended, first-round picks Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley were on the Nuggets’ roster.
With depth at each position, Denver – without an NBA Development League team – will focus on their development and not worry about finding them immediate roles off the bench.
With coach Michael Malone back for a second season and the core group returning, Denver was focused in retaining its own veteran free agents to maintain stability.
Although box scores don’t show the impact of Mike Miller and Darrell Arthur, their mentorship and influence in the locker room are vital for a young team.
When camp opens, Denver will return 14 out of 15 players, not including this year’s draft picks.
Testing the free-agent waters
Even with a heavy emphasis building thought the draft and shrewd trades, the Nuggets showed a willingness to dive into free agency.
With future Hall of Fame guard Dwyane Wade weighing his options, Denver joined a handful of teams in getting an audience with Wade.
Although Wade eventually signed with Chicago, the free-agent meeting should serve as a rehearsal for the Nuggets’ free agency next summer.
1. Danilo Gallinari $15,000,000
2. Kenneth Faried $12,078,652
3. Wilson Chandler $11,233,146
4. Darrell Arthur $8,070,175
5. Jameer Nelson $4,540,525
6. Will Barton $3,533,333
7. Mike Miller $3,500,000
8. Emmanuel Mudiay $3,241,800
9. Jamal Murray $3,210,840
10. Juan Hernangomez $1,987,440
11. Jusuf Nurkic $1,921,320
12. Gary Harris $1,655,880
13. Malik Beasley $1,627,320
14. Nikola Jokic $1,358,500
15. JaKarr Sampson $980,431
16. Nate Wolters $980,431
17. D.J. Kennedy $874,636
18. Axel Toupane $874,636
Salary table 2016
Guaranteed salaries $73,008,931
Dead money $0
Tax variance $211,590
Free-agent cap holds $0
Incomplete roster charge $0
Salaries: cap $76,679,065
Salaries: tax $76,890,655
Salary cap $94,143,000
Luxury tax $113,287,000
Cap space $17,463,935
Tax room $36,396,345
The Nuggets started the summer with $24 million in cap space, but with little flexibility to add through free agency because of a full roster.
Denver would use full Bird rights on Darrell Arthur and cap space on Mike Miller.
Murray, Hernangomez and Beasley were signed under the rookie scale.
The Nuggets are currently one of the teams with the most cap space remaining.
Free agents signed in the offseason cannot be traded until either Dec. 15, Jan. 15 or for three months if they signed after Sept. 15.
Miller, Nate Wolters and D.J. Kennedy cannot be traded until Dec. 15.
Arthur cannot be traded until Jan. 15 because he was signed using Bird rights and his contract exceeds his previous one by 20 percent.
Danilo Gallinari has a 15 percent trade bonus in his contract.
The current value of Gallinari’s bonus is $2.2 million and will decrease once the regular season begins.
Starter Bench Bench
PG Emmanuel Mudiay Jameer Nelson Jamal Murray/Nate Wolters
SG Gary Harris Will Barton/Malik Beasley JaKarr Sampson/D.J. Kennedy
SF Danilo Gallinari Wilson Chandler Mike Miller/Axel Toupane
PF Kenneth Faried Darrell Arthur Juan Hernangomez
C Nikola Jokic Jusuf Nurkic
Denver has 14 guaranteed contracts and four players on non-guaranteed/partial contracts: Wolters, Kennedy, JaKarr Sampson and Axel Toupane.
Barring an unexpected roster shakeup, all four likely won’t make the team.
SNEAK PEEK TO NEXT SUMMER
Denver could be in the exact same position next July.
With 14 players under contract, $20 million-plus in cap space and possibly two first-round picks (its own and Memphis’), the Nuggets once again will have the flexibility to build on their roster, but it could involve some roster juggling.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Rarely does a 19-year-old lottery pick make an impact during his rookie season.
But Murray, the seventh pick in the draft, is not your typical rookie.
The former Kentucky player thrived during summer league and has offensive intangibles and a poise that cannot be taught.
But defensive limitations and depth in the Nuggets’ backcourt could make Murray’s quest for playing time difficult.
More NBA coverage from The Vertical: