The Nuggets and Will Barton have engaged in discussions on a contract extension, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN (Twitter link). Since Barton isn’t on a rookie scale deal, there’s no real rush for the two sides to finalize an agreement — the deadline for Barton to sign an extension is June 30, rather than October 16.
While it makes sense for the Nuggets and Barton to see if they can find common ground on a new deal, the talks represent a change in the swingman’s stance on the subject. Haynes reported back in April that Barton intended to turn down any extension offer from Denver, planning instead on reaching unrestricted free agency in 2018.
It’s possible that Barton is simply listening to the Nuggets out of courtesy, but it’s more likely that the evolving market for NBA free agents made him reconsider his position. League-wide spending wasn’t as extravagant this summer as it was in 2016, and there are expected to be even fewer teams with significant cap room in 2018, meaning Barton isn’t necessarily guaranteed a huge payday on the open market.
Because Barton is only earning about $3.53MM this season and the Nuggets are above the cap, the team is limited in what it can offer him. Still, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement allows a starting salary worth up to 120% of the estimated average salary, with 8% annual raises. That would result in an extension that looks a lot like the four-year, $42MM pact Josh Richardson signed with the Heat last week.
That would be a significant investment for the Nuggets, but Barton has shown in the past couple seasons that he can be a very effective part of the club’s rotation. In 2016/17, the 26-year-old averaged 13.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 3.4 APG, with a shooting line of .443/.370/.753.