With Paul Millsap, Jerami Grant, and Mason Plumlee all facing free agency this fall, the Nuggets front office may need to look outside the organization to fill newly-opened gaps in their frontcourt. Kendra Andrews of The Athletic assesses some big men for Denver to target this offseason.
- Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic examines the rebranding of the Nuggets’ arena, which was formally re-named from Pepsi Center to Ball Arena. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment announced a naming rights partnership with the Ball Corporation last week, explaining the new arena name change.
- In his latest mailbag, Mike Singer of The Denver Post examines some of the best trade options for the Nuggets. These include projecting the players and picks necessary for a possible Jrue Holiday deal, and what could be gained from moving up in the 2020 draft. With power forward Paul Millsap, center Mason Plumlee, and combo forward Jerami Grant all entering free agency, the team may also look to shore up its frontcourt with tactical signings.
- After being known as the Pepsi Center for over two decades, the Nuggets‘ home arena is getting a new name. As Mike Singer of The Denver Post details, the team’s building will now be known as the Ball Arena as a result of a partnership between Ball Corporation and Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.
- Likening Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell to Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer suggests the Timberwolves are in position to follow the roster-building blueprint established by the Nuggets. However, Tjarks acknowledges that the Wolves need to start adding more two-way players and would benefit tremendously from finding their own version of Paul Millsap.
The NBA is eyeing Martin Luther King Day (January 18) as a potential start date for the 2020/21 regular season, sources tell Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. According to Goodwill, the league still isn’t ruling out the possibility of a Christmas Day start, but recognizes that MLK Day may be a more realistic target, especially if it wants to have any chance of getting fans back in arenas for opening night.
There’s no guarantee that the season will start by January 18, but the NBA would like to get back to its typical October-to-June calendar for the 2021/22 season if possible, says Goodwill. The league will give teams and players eight weeks of notice before the start of next season.
Here’s more from Goodwill:
- It remains to be seen whether the Pelicans will seriously consider trading Jrue Holiday this offseason, but many teams think trimming salary will be a priority for New Orleans, per Goodwill, and if Holiday’s available, he’s expected to be a popular target. Sources tell Yahoo Sports that about 10 teams have inquired on the veteran guard, with the Nuggets expected to be his most aggressive suitors.
- One issue the NBA will have to resolve for the 2020/21 season is where the Raptors will play if teams return to their respective home arenas. Assuming there are still restrictions in place on travel between the U.S. and Canada by the time the NBA season begins, the team could end up sharing another NBA market or even playing in Louisville, says Goodwill. The city of Louisville has an NBA-ready arena, and businessman and former NBA player Junior Bridgeman has been in contact with the league about the possibility, Goodwill adds.
- The Raptors’ situation is one of a handful of items to be discussed on a Board of Governors call this Friday, along with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and competitive formats for next season, Goodwill writes.
The Nuggets might have to do something bold to land a third star to join Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, but they won’t deal Michael Porter Jr. to make that happen. Brian Windhorst of ESPN said in a recent podcast that Denver has zero interest in trading the young forward.
“In talking to teams around the league, the Nuggets have made it clear Michael Porter Jr. is not available,” Windhorst said.
Porter, who averaged 11.4 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 23.7 MPG during the postseason, can become a restricted free agent during the summer of 2022.
We have more on the Nuggets:
- Without including Porter in a blockbuster, the Nuggets have no chance to acquire Bradley Beal if the Wizards make the All-Star guard available, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. A trade for Victor Oladipo is also unlikely, given Oladipo’s injury issues and his impending free agency next year, Singer continues. A deal for the Pacers guard would be more realistic at the trade deadline if he’s healthy and productive, Singer adds.
- It’s a near lock that Jerami Grant will decline his player option but it would be mutually beneficial for both parties if he re-signs, according to Joel Rush of Forbes.com. Grant will essentially assure himself of a starting job if he stays put, Rush continues. Other contenders don’t have the financial means to outspend Denver for Grant’s services and lottery teams with cap space are less likely now to overspend for a role player like Grant, Rush adds.
- Several mock drafts have projected 18-year-old international prospect Aleksej Pokusevski going to the Nuggets with the No. 22 pick, Eric Spyropoulos of Nuggets.com notes. Currently slotted as the 19th-best prospect by ESPN, Pokusevski played limited minutes in Greek’s second division last season due to an injury, but the seven-footer has intriguing offensive skills and length.
Denver forward Jerami Grant intends to decline his player option for 2020/21, and he and the Nuggets have “significant mutual interest” in negotiating a new contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. With Grant’s Bird rights in hand, the Nuggets are probably the favorites to sign him this offseason, but they’ll face competition from rival suitors.
A previous report singled out the Pistons, Suns, and Hawks as teams that will have interest in Grant. Charania adds a new club to that list today, writing that the Mavericks are also expected to show interest in the versatile forward.
Dallas likely won’t have much cap flexibility this offseason and is believed to be preserving its 2021 cap room in order to make a run at a star who can complement Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. However, if the Mavericks can acquire that third star in a trade, preserving cap room for next year wouldn’t be necessary. According to Charania, Dallas is willing to absorb larger salaries in order to land a star.
Here are a few more items of interest from Charania:
- We know that Stan Van Gundy and Tyronn Lue are two of four finalists for the Pelicans‘ head coaching job. Charania says that the two other finalists are expected to interview with the club next week. While the identities of those two candidates is unknown for now, Jason Kidd – who has previously been linked to the position – isn’t part of the process for now, per Charania..
- Spurs assistant Will Hardy and Thunder assistant Brian Keefe are receiving consideration for Oklahoma City’s head coaching vacancy, sources tell The Athletic.
- The Pacers are expected to narrow their pool of coaching candidates and will conduct in-person interviews with a few finalists next week, according to Charania. Indiana will zero in on a decision after that, he adds.
- Charania’s rumors round-up includes several more items, many of which we’ve already turned into full stories. Those include Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope being expected to turn down their player options, the Bucks’ possible pursuit of Bogdan Bogdanovic, and the Warriors’ potential interest in Dwight Howard.
The Thunder are one of the few teams still searching for a new head coach. Last month, Billy Donovan and Oklahoma City surprisingly parted ways after he reportedly rejected a two-year contract offer from the Thunder.
With Donovan having moved onto Chicago, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman explores the idea of Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy as a potential head-coaching candidate for the Thunder. Mussatto notes that the 49-year-old Handy has a championship pedigree, having gone to the NBA Finals six times. He also looked at Handy’s journey, which includes playing professional basketball and getting his start as a player development coach in 2011.
Along with Handy, Mussatto profiled Spurs assistant Will Hardy as a head coaching option for the Thunder.
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune takes a look at who the Jazz might select with the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. As Walden writes, Utah vice president Dennis Lindsey said last month that the team will be looking for a player who brings defensive intensity. Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, Josh Green, and Tyrell Terry are just some of the prospects who may be options for the Jazz at No. 23.
- In her latest mailbag, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic discusses what the Nuggets might do in free agency. Andrews was asked frequently about Jerami Grant, who played a pivotal role in Denver’s playoff run, an said that re-signing Grant is a top priority for the Nuggets. He could command a deal in the four-year, $64M range.
- Chris Kine of The Star Tribune examines the next steps for the Timberwolves with the offseason finally here. As things stand, Minnesota has the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, which could both the team a good player and fill a need. However, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas suggested it’s not realistic to address a need in the draft. “Needs have to be addressed in free agency and trades,” Rosas said. “With draft guys it’s a development process. You want it to be right away, but the reality is it’s a two, three, four-year process.” Rosas reiterated that Minnesota is establishing its culture. Meanwhile, Kine argues that the Timberwolves do not have time on their side with both Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell looking to win.
After winning the NBA Finals in 2020, the Lakers are currently listed by sportsbooks as the odds-on frontrunners to do so again in 2021.
Over at BetOnline.ag, oddsmakers have listed the Lakers as +275 favorites to come out of the Western Conference in 2020/21. That means if you place a $100 bet on the Lakers and they win the West next season, you’ll win $275.
While the Lakers are the current favorites, BetOnline.ag places two other Western Conference teams in roughly the same tier. The Clippers (+375) have the second-best odds to win the conference, while the Warriors (+400) have the third-best odds.
Golden State’s placement is an interesting one. We can safely assume that the Warriors will be much improved in 2020/21 with a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back in their lineup, and they have the resources necessary to make further roster upgrades. Still, the club is coming off a dismal 15-50 season that saw them finish in last place in the NBA. Winning the West in 2021 would represent a historic turnaround.
The rest of the odds to win the West next year are as follows, per BetOnline.ag:
- Nuggets: +1200
- Rockets: +1200
- Mavericks: +1400
- Trail Blazers: +1800
- Jazz: +2500
- Pelicans: +2500
- Suns: +3300
- Thunder: +4000
- Grizzlies: +5000
- Kings: +12500
- Spurs: +12500
- Timberwolves: +12500
As we acknowledged on Tuesday when we asked you for your thoughts on the Eastern Conference odds for 2020/21, it’s way too early to confidently predict next year’s conference champions. Rosters will undergo significant changes in the coming months in the draft and free agency, and on the trade market.
Still, the anticipated offseason directions for certain teams is baked into BetOnline’s odds. The Thunder would certainly be higher on the above list if the possibility of a rebuild wasn’t hanging over the franchise.
So, with the caveat that plenty could change in the coming months to alter the outlook of the West for the 2020/21 season, we want to get your thoughts on the early projections from oddsmakers.
Should the Lakers be considered the favorites to come out of the West again in 2021? Are the Warriors or another team being overvalued? Are there other clubs being undervalued? Which team do you like to come out of the West next season? And which club do you view as the best value pick based on the odds listed above?
Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your early forecast for the Western Conference in 2020/21!
The Jazz had a relatively successful 2019/20 run, culminating in a first round 4-3 loss to the Nuggets sans start small forward Bojan Bogdanović. As the team looks to improve this offseason, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News assesses possible free agent additions for the Jazz, with input from some Utah fans.
- Nuggets lead assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. has been interviewed by the Rockets and Clippers about each of those Western Conference playoff contenders’ head coaching vacancies, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Unseld is known around the league to be a player-friendly, defensive-oriented coach. After the Nuggets defeated the Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals, Unseld was singled out for praise by head coach Mike Malone. “Wes Unseld should be a head coach,” Malone raved. “Our defense in the last three games [all Nuggets wins] has been phenomenal.”