Throughout the month of November, Hoops Rumors will look back at each team's offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.
Trades and Claims
Rookie Contract Option Decisions
While it was a reasonably busy summer for the Nuggets, it wasn't one that saw the roster overhauled too drastically. The team made a series of moves earlier in the calendar year and at the end of the offseason that ensured many of their core players would be locked up going forward: Danilo Gallinari and Kosta Koufos had their contracts extended in January, Wilson Chandler was re-signed long-term when he returned from China in March, and more recently, Ty Lawson received a four-year extension from the team.
Of course, even after we add JaVale McGee and Andre Miller to the list of players to be re-signed by the Nuggets this summer, it's not fair to say that the team was simply retaining its current players and hoping for the best. After all, the Nuggets were involved in the biggest trade of the summer, August's four-team blockbuster that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers and saw Andre Iguodala head to Denver.
Critics of the Iguodala acquisition may ask why the Nuggets played an active role in ensuring a superstar like Howard was traded to a conference rival. But as Grantland's Zach Lowe wrote today, the Nuggets only got involved in trade negotiations after Howard was earmarked for Los Angeles in three-team talks featuring the Lakers, Magic, and 76ers. As such, the Nuggets' involvement comes off as a clever way of piggybacking on an existing deal, ensuring they upgraded their own roster right along with the Lakers.
And it's hard to argue that Iguodala won't be an upgrade in Denver. The Nuggets may still lack a true go-to scorer in crunch time; the former Sixer wasn't that guy in Philadelphia and isn't expected ot be that guy in Denver. But he's a capable scorer and an All-NBA defender, an upgrade on veterans like Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington, who were sent out in the deal. For other teams, swapping two rotation players for one may not be quite so viable, but the Nuggets' bench is still a strength, featuring players like Miller, McGee, Chandler, and Corey Brewer.
Given the depth they have behind their starting five, it doesn't come as a huge surprise that the Nuggets elected to tab French sharpshooter Evan Fournier as their first-round pick in June. Heading into the draft, Fournier, who just turned 20 a week ago, was viewed as a player that would likely play overseas for at least another season. He requires some seasoning, but that's fine with Denver, who elected to sign him immediately -- considering the number of viable rotation options the Nuggets already have, the 20-year-old won't be required to provide major minutes and production right away.
With so many players having signed multiyear extensions or free agent deals within the last year, the Nuggets are moving forward without a whole lot of cap flexibility. The team has about $53MM in salaries committed to 2013/14's roster, and that's without taking into account Iguodala, who could exercise a $16MM+ player option or negotiate a new deal with the team. Either scenario would see the Nuggets approaching the tax threshold, barring a trade.
All those contracts on their books suggest the Nuggets' roster won't undergo significant changes in the next couple years, but GM Masai Ujiri has shown that such an assumption is never safe. Ujiri managed to deal both Afflalo and Nene in major trades just months after signing them to new, long-term contracts, which should indicate that Lawson, Gallinari, McGee, and others aren't necessarily locks to still be playing in Denver four years from now.
Still, the Nuggets' current core is strong, and the team figures to evaluate it with some patience this season. If Iguodala fits in well with his new team and Lawson continues to develop in one of the conference's top point guards, the Nuggets have the talent and the depth to compete with some of the top squads in the West.