- The agreed-upon four-year, $92MM extension between the Nuggets and forward Aaron Gordon is a sign that the franchise is going all out win a title in the next three seasons, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post opines. It’s a declaration that Nikola Jokic and the core group is good enough to capture the championship, regardless of the moves made by the Lakers and other contenders.
The 6’11” Cornelie appeared in 34 games for Elan Bearnais of the French LNB Pro A league last season, averaging 14.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 1.5 APG while shooting 54.0% from the field and 44.2% from 3-point range in 28.9 MPG. The 26-year-old also helped France’s national team earn a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Cornelie, who has played professionally overseas since 2013, was a draft-and-stash selection by Denver as the 53rd pick in the 2016 draft. He has appeared in 14 games for three Nuggets summer league teams from 2016-18, averaging 5.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 1.0 APG in 16.8 MPG.
With guard Markus Howard holding the other spot, the Nuggets now have both two-way slots filled.
The 2021/22 NBA regular season will get underway next month, so it’s time to start getting serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign and to resume an annual Hoops Rumors tradition.
With the help of the lines from a handful of sports betting sites, including Bovada and BetOnline, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. In a series of team-by-team polls, you’ll get the chance to weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.
In 2020/21, our voters went 17-13 on their over/under picks. Can you top that in ’21/22?
As a reminder, the NBA played a 72-game schedule in 2020/21, so a team that won 41 games last year finished with a 41-31 record. This year, a club that wins 41 games would be a .500 team (41-41). For added clarity, we’ve noted the record that each team would have to achieve to finish “over” its projected win total.
We’ll turn today to the Northwest division…
- 2020/21 record: 52-20
- Over/under for 2021/22: 52.5 wins (53-29)
- Major offseason moves:
Trade Rumors app users, click here for Jazz poll.
- 2020/21 record: 47-25
- Over/under for 2021/22: 48.5 wins (49-33)
- Major offseason moves:
Trade Rumors app users, click here for Nuggets poll.
Portland Trail Blazers
- 2020/21 record: 42-30
- Over/under for 2021/22: 44.5 wins (45-37)
- Major offseason moves:
Trade Rumors app users, click here for Trail Blazers poll.
- 2020/21 record: 23-49
- Over/under for 2021/22: 34.5 wins (35-47)
- Major offseason moves:
Trade Rumors app users, click here for Timberwolves poll.
Oklahoma City Thunder
- 2020/21 record: 22-50
- Over/under for 2021/22: 23.5 wins (24-58)
- Major offseason moves:
Trade Rumors app users, click here for Thunder poll.
Previous voting results:
- Brooklyn Nets (55.5 wins): Over (63.2%)
- Philadelphia 76ers (51.5 wins): Under (70.0%)
- Boston Celtics (46.5 wins): Over (58.1%)
- New York Knicks (42.5 wins): Over (65.1%)
- Toronto Raptors (36.5 wins): Under (50.6%)
The Nuggets and forward Aaron Gordon have reached an agreement on a four-year extension, agent Calvin Andrews of Klutch Sports tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, the deal is worth $92MM and includes a fourth-year player option for 2025/26.
Mike Singer of The Denver Post reported in late August that the Nuggets and Gordon had mutual interest in an extension and would likely reach a deal soon. At that point, Singer anticipated a two- or three-year extension in the range of $20-21MM per year, but it sounds like Denver was willing to go higher to get the former fourth overall pick locked up long-term.
Gordon will earn a base salary of $16,409,091 in 2021/22 – the last year of his current contract – with an extra $1MM available in unlikely incentives. A veteran extension allows for a starting salary 20% higher than the player’s previous salary, and it looks like the Nuggets are going that route with Gordon — his maximum extension would have a base value of about $88.2MM over four years. Adding $1MM in annual unlikely incentives (for All-Star, All-NBA, and All-Defense nods) bumps the total up to the $92MM figure reported by Charania.
After spending the first six years of his career with the Magic, Gordon was part of a midseason trade in his seventh season, having been sent from the Magic to the Nuggets at the 2021 trade deadline. The athletic forward, who will turn 26 on Thursday, helped shore up Denver’s defense down the stretch, though his counting stats (10.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.2 APG on .500/.266/.705 shooting) in 25 games with the club were modest.
Now that Gordon will have a full offseason and training camp as a Nugget under his belt, the team will likely have higher expectations for him going forward. His new extension will make him an important part of a core that also includes Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. Jokic is under contract through 2023, Murray is locked up through 2025, and Porter is entering a contract year, though he’s a good bet to sign an extension of his own before opening night.
Gordon’s new deal is the 15th contract extension – and the 10th veteran extension – of the NBA offseason. His contract will rank seventh out of this summer’s 10 veteran extensions in overall value, slotting in between Terry Rozier (four years, $96MM) and Marcus Smart (four years, $77MM).
In past seasons, close out-of-bounds calls have been automatically reviewed in the last two minutes of games, resulting in prolonged stoppages that have halted the momentum of close contests and dragged out the final moments of those games. If the Board of Governors approves the rule change, a head coach’s challenge will be required to trigger those reviews, says Charania.
As John Hollinger of The Athletic points out, it’s possible some close calls would be missed as a result of this change. However, some of the calls being overturned by those automatic reviews were plays where a defender clearly knocked a ball out of bounds, but it grazed the ball-handler’s fingertips last, which was a change “nobody wanted.”
Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) identifies several 2021 rookies who are strong candidates to outperform their post-lottery draft positions, including Rockets big man Alperen Sengun (No. 16), Pelicans wing Trey Murphy III (No. 17), and Nuggets guard Bones Hyland (No. 26).
- BIG3 director of basketball operations Thomas Scott, a former Lakers assistant, has joined the G League Ignite as an assistant coach on Jason Hart‘s staff, per an announcement from the BIG3 (Twitter link). Scott will also be the Ignite’s head of player development, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.
- The Chinese Basketball Association has lifted its restrictions on teams signing foreign players now that it has decided to conduct its 2021/22 season in a bubble, as Nicola Lupo of Sportando writes. Sources tell Sportando that former Grizzlies and Nuggets wing Jamaal Franklin – a second-round pick in 2013 – is one of the first players to take advantage, having signed a lucrative new deal with the Shanghai Sharks.
Free agent power forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili will ink an Exhibit 10 deal with the Nuggets, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). The 6’9″ rookie out of Illinois had previously suited up for Denver’s Summer League team.
The big man’s deal is fairly standard for a training camp invitee. Ostensibly, he could play himself into a rotation on the Nuggets’ 15-man roster to kick off the 2021/22 season. That said, the Nuggets are more likely to try him out on their new G League affiliate club, the Grand Rapids Gold. Bezhanishvili could also be in the mix for Denver’s second two-way player slot, alongside the already-signed Markus Howard.
The Nuggets currently have 14 players under standard guaranteed contracts, plus guard PJ Dozier on a non-guaranteed deal.
Bezhanishvili went undrafted this summer after logging three seasons with the Fighting Illini. The 22-year-old averaged 8.2 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 95 contests with the club, including 57 starts.
He enjoyed his most productive collegiate run as a freshman. During the 2018/19 season, Bezhanishvili averaged 12.5 PPG and 5.2 RPG, in 26.1 MPG, while starting all 33 games. By his junior season, those numbers had declined to 5.1 PPG and 2.7 RPG, while averaging just 14.5 MPG in 31 games as a reserve.
- The Nuggets have revealed the assistant coaches slated to join their new G League team, the Grand Rapids Gold, per a team press release. Head coach Jason Terry, a former Sixth Man of the Year and champ with the Mavericks, will be helped on the bench by assistant coaches Travess Armenta (most recently a Nuggets player development coach and video department member), former Mississippi State assistant coach Tamisha Augustin, former Wizards assistant coach Jim Lynam Jr. and former Hawks assistant Nathan Babcock. This marks the first head coaching gig for Terry, a 19-year NBA veteran. He spent the 2020/21 season as an assistant coach at Arizona, his alma mater.
Michael Porter Jr. is remaining patient while his agent works out an extension with the Nuggets, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Porter is eligible for a new deal worth up to $168MM over five years, but Denver may be reluctant to commit the full amount because of his injury history. He had back issues coming out of college and sat out his entire rookie season.
Porter is coming off a breakthrough year that saw him average 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in 61 games. He’s clearly a part of the team’s future and he is optimistic that agent Mark Bartelstein will work out a favorable deal.
“Everything is sounding great, in the direction that I’d like to be headed,” Porter said. “Nothing is set in stone, but everything is going smooth as far as that goes. One thing about Mark – something probably could’ve been done already but Mark is the best in the business. I told him, ‘Take your time, do your thing. I’m in no rush, I’m in grindmode. I’m not stressed about it. I’m just in the gym, and whenever you’ve got some news for me, hit me up.’”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Argentinian forward Gabriel Deck faces an uncertain future with the Thunder, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. He’s set to make $3.67MM this season, but the team hasn’t stated how much he’s guaranteed or how the contract is structured. There are two more years on the deal he signed in April, but they are both non-guaranteed. There were rumors last month that the 26-year-old was considering a return to Spain. He averaged 8.4 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 10 games last season.
- The Thunder will have plenty of bench players who are worthy of a spot in the rotation, and Brandon Rahbar of Daily Thunder tries to sort out the hierarchy of which ones should get playing time.
- Jazz coach Quin Snyder received a lot of criticism last season for keeping his main rotation players on the court too long, and Sarah Todd of The Deseret News looks at whether that practice is likely to continue.
So far during the NBA’s 2021 offseason, a total of 32 trades have been made, including the not-yet-official deals between the Grizzlies/Celtics and Nets/Pistons that were reported earlier today. Of the league’s 30 teams, 29 have been involved in those deals — the Nuggets are the only team that hasn’t forayed into the trade market at least once since the regular season ended.
[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Trades]
After today’s trade agreement, Memphis is the only club that has completed six deals during the 2021 offseason. The Grizzlies acquired some extra draft assets from New Orleans as a reward for taking on Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams, moved up 10 spots in the draft to select Santi Aldama, sent Grayson Allen to Milwaukee, flipped Bledsoe to the Clippers for three players, then sent one of those three players (Patrick Beverley) to Minnesota in exchange for Juan Hernangomez and Jarrett Culver before flipping Hernangomez to Boston.
The Celtics, meanwhile, are one of just two other teams that has agreed to five trades so far this offseason. New president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been busy in his first summer on the job, striking the first deal of the offseason when he sent Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City. The team also acquired Josh Richardson from Dallas, traded away Tristan Thompson in a three-team deal, created a trade exception by signing-and-trading Evan Fournier, and agreed today to acquire Hernangomez.
The Pelicans are the other club that has made five trades so far this summer. Three of New Orleans’ trades came as a result of selling off picks in the July 29 draft, but the other two were significant moves — the Pels landed Valanciunas and Devonte’ Graham (via sign-and-trade) in a three-team deal with Memphis and Charlotte, and acquired Tomas Satoransky and Garrett Temple in the sign-and-trade sending Lonzo Ball to Chicago.
Here are a few more details on this offseason’s 32 trades:
- The Bulls, Clippers, Knicks, and Thunder have each made four trades, with the Hornets, Nets, Pacers, Spurs, and Jazz completing three.
- The Pistons, Cavaliers, Rockets, Bucks, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers have made two trades apiece, while 11 teams have been involved in just one trade.
- Three of this offeason’s 32 trades have been three-teamers, while one (the Russell Westbrook/Spencer Dinwiddie deal) included five teams. The other 28 deals were just two-team agreements.
- Nearly half of this summer’s trades (15 of 32) included at least one 2021 draft pick — either the pick itself was dealt before the draft started, or the rights to a player were traded after he was selected on July 29.
- Eight of this offseason’s deals included a free agent being signed-and-traded. One of those eight – the Bulls/Pelicans deal – featured multiple players being signed-and-traded, with Ball heading to Chicago and Temple going to New Orleans.
- Eight first-round picks from future drafts (ie. 2022 and beyond) changed hands this offseason in six different deals. However, all of those picks were fairly heavily protected — all of them had at least top-10 protection.
SEPTEMBER 1: Nearly a month after initially agreeing to terms with Rivers, the Nuggets made the deal official on Tuesday, per NBA.com’s transactions log. The one-year contract is believed to be worth the veteran’s minimum, though that has yet to be formally confirmed.
After signing with the Knicks as a free agent last offseason, Rivers had a short-lived stint in New York. He was traded to Oklahoma City and subsequently waived before joining a Nuggets team that was hit hard by backcourt injuries down the stretch.
With Jamal Murray and Will Barton sidelined, Rivers played big minutes for the Nuggets in his 15 regular season games with the club, averaging 8.7 PPG, 2.6 APG, and 2.1 RPG on .418/.375/.706 shooting in 26.9 minutes per contest. He played even more in the postseason, starting nine of 10 games and averaging 9.2 PPG on .435/.413/.813 shooting in 30.5 MPG.
With Murray’s absence expected to stretch well into 2021/22, there should be playing time available for Rivers going forward.
It has been a busy night for the Nuggets. Less than four hours into free agency, they’ve already agreed to re-sign Rivers, Barton, and JaMychal Green while also lining up a deal with free agent forward Jeff Green. Denver now has 15 players who project to be on the regular season roster, so the team may be done shopping for the time being.