Simply getting Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) on the court again in the fall will raise the Nuggets’ ceiling for the 2022/23 season. However, head coach Michael Malone suggested in his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday that the team has to do more than just wait for everyone to get healthy in order to capitalize on its title window.
“This might be the biggest offseason, at least for me, in my perspective, since I’ve been here,” Malone said, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “… We have a window, and I think windows are only open so long. We have a 27-year-old phenom, who will hopefully soon be named a back-to-back MVP. We have to capitalize while we have a player, a special player in Nikola (Jokic), and do everything we can as an organization — and I know we will — to put the best players around him.”
As Singer writes, it will be important for the Nuggets to get the right “fringe” pieces around their perennial MVP candidate using the No. 21 overall pick in the draft and/or their cap exceptions in free agency. Denver was among the league’s worst teams at protecting the rim in 2021/22, so a backup center to help spell Jokic and a wing who can take some defensive pressure off of him could be priorities this summer, Singer adds.
“You can’t bleed at the rim the way we bled at the rim this year,” Malone said.
Here’s more out of Denver:
- Both Malone and general manager Calvin Booth spoke highly of free-agent-to-be Austin Rivers on Wednesday. As Singer relays (via Twitter), Malone praised Rivers’ defensive tenacity and said his two years in Denver “speak for themselves,” while Booth said the veteran guard is a player the team would look to bring back.
- Asked about how big a priority it is to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins this offseason, Booth said the Nuggets will talk to the veteran center’s reps, but Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link) didn’t get the sense that Cousins is a lock to be back.
- The Nuggets like some draft prospects in the No. 21 range, but aren’t “married” to their pick and will explore all their options with it, according to Booth (Twitter link via Singer).
- Booth hinted that Denver will look to add more shooting this summer. “You don’t have to watch basketball for five minutes to know that Joker likes to have shooters around him,” the GM said (Twitter link via Singer).