In the wake of the Nuggets‘ championship-clinching victory on Monday, Bruce Brown‘s teammates were effusive in their praise of the versatile guard, predicting a significant payday for the 26-year-old this summer in free agency. However, Brown told Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscription required) that he won’t necessarily accept the biggest offer he gets on the open market.
“I want to stay,” Brown said. “… It’s a perfect fit. And money is not everything. The money will come. So I’m not worried about that right now.”
Brown, who signed a two-year contract with the Nuggets last offseason, holds a $6.8MM player option for 2023/24. If he turns down that option, Denver would only hold his Non-Bird rights and would be limited to offering him a starting salary of $7.8MM — that figure represents a 20% raise off his current $6.5MM salary.
The Nuggets could theoretically use the mid-level exception to offer up to $12.2MM, but they’re extremely unlikely to have the full MLE available since their team salary projects to be over the luxury tax line. ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link) expects rival suitors to be willing to offer at least the MLE amount of $12.2MM, and possibly more than that. Brown’s teammates are also forecasting a substantial raise based on his play in the regular season and postseason.
“Bruce has been huge for us all playoffs,” Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. said after Monday’s win. “We’re excited for him because he’s going to get paid. He’s going to get paid. … We just kept telling him be aggressive, even though his first half didn’t go amazing making shots-wise. He hit that big bucket down the stretch, made those two free throws. He was amazing for us all playoffs. It wasn’t just tonight.”
In 80 regular season appearances for the Nuggets, Brown averaged a career-best 11.5 points per night on .483/.358/.758 shooting. He also contributed 4.1 RPG and 3.4 APG while handling a variety of defensive assignments. In the playoffs, he bumped his scoring average to 12.0 PPG while shooting 51.1% from the floor. On Monday, the five-year veteran made a key basket late in the game’s closing minutes to give Denver the lead, then knocked down two free throws with 14 seconds left to clinch the victory.
One option for Brown would be to decline his player option, sign another one-plus-one deal with a first-year salary of $7.8MM, then opt out again in 2024 in order to sign a more lucrative, longer-term deal with the Nuggets. Bobby Portis took this route in Milwaukee after winning a title with the Bucks, accepting a below-market deal in 2021 and then inking a four-year, $48.6MM contract in 2022 once the team had his Early Bird rights.
We’ll see if Brown wants to take a similar path once he’s not still basking in the fresh glow of a title. But on Monday, at least, he sounded genuinely enthusiastic about remaining in Denver.
“That’s insane,” he said of the Nuggets’ 16-4 playoff record, per Singer. “That doesn’t happen. … Why not run it back?”