Denver Nuggets

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Kupchak, Bender, Clippers

The Kings‘ decision to take big men in the first round of the draft may force them to make an aggressive offer to free agent point guard Rajon Rondo, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Sacramento traded down with its first pick and took center Georgios Papagiannis at No. 13, then later added forward Malachi Richardson at No. 22 and forward/center Skal Labissiere at No. 28. The selections leave the Kings with holes on the roster, Jones notes, and could make them desperate to keep Rondo, who led the NBA in assists this season.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings GM/executive Vlade Divac said his team is “set” in the front court after draft night, Jones tweets. Divac adds that he is open to re-signing Rondo.
  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak hopes to surround all his young talent with some veteran leaders, posts Baxter Holmes on ESPN Now. L.A. selected Brandon Ingram on Thursday to team with D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, if he re-signs with the team. “History tells you that a bunch of young guys on the team is probably not a good thing,” Kupchak said. “They look around for leadership or they look around for advice from somebody who’s been through this a couple times, and if there’s nobody to talk to, well, you don’t know how to handle the situation. So I think we will look to add some veteran leadership and hopefully it’s not only leadership but guys who can help us win games.”
  • The Suns feared Dragan Bender wouldn’t be available later if they didn’t take him at No. 4, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix. The Suns thought Denver would take Bender at No. 7, which is why they nabbed him with the fourth pick and waited until No 8 to take Marquese Chriss.
  • Even though they have limited cap room, the Clippers will make an effort to re-sign all their free agents, coach Doc Rivers told Rowan Kavner of“To a man, they all want to come back,” Rivers said. “Then there’s business. We’ll see once July 1st comes. It’s going to be interesting the way the cap’s going up. We have three Bird [Rights] guys we have a chance of signing [Jeff Green, Jamal Crawford and Luc Mbah a Moute], but they all may be — not all of them — but they may outprice and we can’t sign all three. But we’re going to try.

Harris, Not Murray, Will Be Starting Two Guard

  • New Nuggets guard Jamal Murray can expect to begin the season in a sixth-man role, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Denver GM Tim Connelly says veteran shooting guard Gary Harris will continue to start, with Murray used for instant offense off the bench. “It’s Gary’s job,” Connelly said. “Certainly I hope Jamal does everything he does to potentially take the job, but Gary’s our starting two guard. [Drafting Murray] was an addition to what we think is a very strong backcourt already. We like the flexibility he provides us.”
  • The Nuggets haven’t decided whether to bring over No. 15 pick Juan Hernangomez next season, Dempsey writes in the same piece. The 20-year-old power forward played for Real Madrid this season. “Both options are open,” Connelly said. “There are some pretty good international situations, if we want him to marinate a bit overseas. I think certainly he has the game to come over. If you’re productive at the ACB level, it usually translates. But it’s a conversation we’re going to have with his representatives and figure it out.”

Unsigned Draft Picks: Northwest Division

With the 2016 NBA draft now in the books, the term draft-and-stash will be mentioned quite often in regard to international players and late second-rounders. While some of these athletes will eventually sign with an NBA team,  it seems like the majority of them stay overseas and never make it to the league. Those players in the latter category aren’t without value as they become trade assets for the teams holding their rights.

While many players fail to work out the way teams expect them to, they can at least become tradeable assets for teams that don’t want to part with a future second-round pick in a deal.  Each team must give up something in a trade, which is why many swaps include top-55 protected second-round picks.  Older draft rights held players who clearly will never come over to the NBA are essentially the same as flipping those heavily protected second-rounders, for all intents and purposes.

Listed below are the current unsigned draftees for the teams of the Northwest Division. These listings don’t include players selected in this year’s draft:

Denver Nuggets

Minnesota Timberwolves

Oklahoma City Thunder

Portland Trail Blazers

  • Daniel Diez — Selected No. 54 overall in 2015.
  • Nedzad Sinanovic — Selected No. 54 overall in 2003.
  • Federico Kammerichs — Selected No. 51 overall in 2002.
  • Doron Sheffer — Selected No. 36 overall in 1996.
  • Marcelo Nicola — Selected No. 50 overall in 1993.

Utah Jazz

  • Olivier Hanlan — Selected No. 41 overall in 2015.
  • Ante Tomic — Selected No. 44 overall in 2008.
  • Shan Foster — Selected No. 51 overall in 2008.
  • Mario Austin — Selected No. 36 overall in 2003.
  • Peter Fehse — Selected No. 49 overall in 2002.

Darrell Arthur Won’t Exercise Player Option

Darrell Arthur has declined to pick up his player option, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays via Twitter. Arthur was set to make slightly over $2.94MM during the 2016/17 season, but he will hit free agency instead.

The power forward previously indicated that he would like to remain with the Nuggets regardless of whether or not he opted to turn down his option. Arthur should have a few suitors looking to bring him aboard, as he received strong interest from other teams at this past season’s trade deadline.

Arthur appeared in 70 games for Denver during the 2015/16 campaign, accumulating 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 45.2% from the field. The 28-year-old ranked 26th in the league among power forwards in ESPN’s Real Plus/Minus.

Thunder Deal For 56th Pick, Draft Daniel Hamilton

The Nuggets sent pick No. 56 to Oklahoma City, which selected Daniel Hamilton, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. Denver received cash in return, adds The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The 56th pick originally belonged to the Thunder before they traded it to the Nuggets.

The 6’8″ sophomore out of Connecticut projects as a shooting guard in the NBA. He averaged 12.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season with the Huskies. He is a productive scorer and playmaker, but tends to be a streaky shooter and struggles on defense.

Hamilton was considered questionable to be drafted, with ESPN’s Chad Ford ranking him 72nd overall and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress listing him 79th.




Draft Rumors: Nuggets, Celtics, Sixers, Dunn

With the 2016 NBA draft just minutes from getting underway, let’s round up some of the latest rumors from around the league…

  • According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter), league executives are saying that many teams with mid-to-late first-round picks are making a “great effort” to move those selections. Already today, the Pacers have moved the No. 20 pick and the Hornets have traded No. 22.
  • The Nuggets made an effort to move up to No. 3, but felt that the Celtics were asking for too much, reports’s David Aldridge (Twitter link).
  • The Celtics aren’t considering Croatian big man Dragan Bender with the third overall pick in the draft, reports Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Boston instead appears to be “increasingly drawn to” Providence point guard Kris Dunn. The Sixers also like Dunn a lot, and are engaged in last-minute talks with Boston, tweets Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
  • The Suns, who have frequently been linked to Marquese Chriss at No. 4, are giving “increasing consideration” to Bender at that spot, tweets’s Marc Stein. Meanwhile, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports that Phoenix is also gauging the value of that No. 4 pick in the event that Dunn is still on the board, since it sounds like there are a few teams coveting the point guard.
  • Donnie Nelson of the Mavericks thinks the draft is “a little light” in the first round, but “heavy” in the second round, and says the team is excited about the No. 46 pick. Nelson added that Dallas hasn’t ruled out trying to get into the first round for the right player (all Twitter links via Earl K. Sneed of

Ed Pinkney Expected To Remain With Team

  • Nuggets assistant coach Ed Pinkney is expected to remain in Denver despite garnering interest from the Timberwolves and new coach/executive Tom Thibodeau, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.

Nuggets Likely To Make Deal, Willing To Move Faried

While the Sixers, Celtics, and a few other clubs have been the subject of more trade rumors in recent weeks, the Nuggets may actually be the team most likely to pull off a draft-day deal, sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. As we noted earlier this week, Denver is one of four teams holding three first-round picks, and is the only one of those clubs without a D-League affiliate, which will make it tricky for the Nuggets to use all their selections and carry all those players on their roster.

In addition to holding three top-20 picks, the Nuggets also have Kenneth Faried, who hasn’t demanded a trade, but wouldn’t mind being moved, since he doesn’t feel like he’s a part of Denver’s long-term plans, according to Deveney. The Sporting News scribe adds that the Nuggets have received offers for Danilo Gallinari as well, but would prefer to move Faried.

  • The Timberwolves have spoken to the Nuggets and have some interest in trading for Faried, Deveney writes. New head coach Tom Thibodeau observed Faried first-hand when they were both part of Team USA at the 2014 World Cup, and apparently liked what he saw.

Nuggets Shopping No. 7 Pick

There likely won’t be much drama with the first overall pick on draft night, now that the Sixers have reportedly informed LSU’s Ben Simmons they’ll be selecting him. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of surprises the rest of the way. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford (via Twitter), all six teams picking between Nos. 3 and 8 – the Celtics, Suns, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Nuggets, and Kings – are shopping their selections to some extent. This year’s draft class is viewed as having a consensus top eight, with a drop off after that point, so those picks could generate plenty of trade interest.

Five Teams Holding Multiple First-Round Picks

With the 2016 NBA draft just three days away, trade talks figure to heat up around the league this week, and there’s a chance we could see plenty of action on Thursday night. One prominent agent tells Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times (Twitter link) that he expects several trades to be made around the draft, with some star players potentially involved.

While first-round picks are always desirable trade assets, the value of those selections has increased even more this year. The salary cap is expected to rise by upwards of $24MM for the 2016/17 season, but rookie salaries will only increase marginally, making those four-year rookie contracts one of the best bargains in the sport. And as it turns out, five NBA teams control nearly half of those first-round picks — four clubs have three first-rounders apiece, while a fifth club holds a pair of them.

Outside of teams in the process of a complete rebuild, there generally aren’t many clubs interested in adding more than a couple rookies to their roster. As such, the teams holding multiple first-rounders (and, in some cases, some second-rounders as well) figure to receive plenty of inquiries this week about those picks, and could be involved in draft-night trades.

Here’s a breakdown of the five teams holding multiple first-round picks:

Boston Celtics
Picks: 3rd, 16th, 23rd
The Celtics’ three first-rounders pale in comparison to their five second-rounders, and the fact that Boston holds eight total selections in this year’s draft means that a trade is probably inevitable. The No. 3 overall pick is in play, though the team reportedly hasn’t yet found a deal it likes involving that pick. The C’s have the option of packaging multiple picks if it means acquiring an impact player, which could be appealing to a team with one big trade chip that wants to land a handful of assets.

Denver Nuggets
Picks: 7th, 15th, 19th
The only team with three top-20 picks, the Nuggets are also the only team in this group of five without a D-League affiliate. That means selecting a project at No. 15 or 19 with the intention of developing him in the D-League isn’t really a viable approach. It also makes Denver a prime trade candidate, though the team could also use its 15th or 19th pick on a draft-and-stash player, since there are a handful of international prospects projected to potentially come off the board in that range.

Philadelphia 76ers
Picks: 1st, 24th, 26th
The 76ers aren’t moving the No. 1 pick, and they’re probably not in win-now mode quite yet, meaning they could conceivably keep their two mid-20s selections as well. Still, with a new GM (Bryan Colangelo) in charge, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team shift its approach this year, and trade one of those selections for more immediate help, rather than stashing a prospect or dealing the pick for a future first-rounder.

Phoenix Suns
Picks: 4th, 13th, 28th
Executive and agents around the NBA expect the Nets to acquire a first-round pick, and I could easily imagine them making their first call to Phoenix to talk about that 28th overall pick. There’s a reasonable chance that the Suns move that selection, and No. 13 could be in play as well. I’d expect Phoenix to keep No. 4 though, giving them the opportunity to add a prospect like Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender.

Toronto Raptors
Picks: 9th, 27th
General manager GM Masai Ujiri has indicated that the Raptors are open for business when it comes to their first-round picks, joking that there’s a clause in Dwane Casey‘s new extension forbidding the team from adding multiple rookies to the 2016/17 roster. Of the two picks, No. 27 is more likely to be moved, but if Toronto has the opportunity to trade for a veteran power forward that could immediately slot into the starting lineup, No. 9 will certainly be in play as well.

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