Nuggets Rumors

Nuggets’ Grant Likely To Decline ’20/21 Option

Appearing on Yahoo Sports’ Posted Up With Chris Haynes podcast, Nuggets forward Jerami Grant admitted that he has thought about his upcoming free agency amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While he acknowledged that the salary cap for 2020/21 might drop a little – or “a lot” – Grant told Haynes that he thinks he’ll still likely pass on his $9.35MM player option for next season.

“I’m definitely not leaning towards picking up the player option,” Grant said, according to Quenton S. Albertie of NuggLove). “Like you said, I feel like I definitely outplayed the $9MM that I’m making each year right now. But at the same time… I’d love to come to a conclusion or something like that with Denver, it just depends what we discuss and negotiate when the time comes.”

Traded from Oklahoma City to Denver last summer for a first-round pick, Grant got off to a slow start as a Nugget, but had rebounded nicely by the time the NBA suspended its season. In 64 total games (26.2 MPG), he averaged 11.6 PPG and 3.5 RPG on .471/.400/.744 shooting. While Grant’s overall net rating wasn’t great, Denver performed better with him on the floor than off it during the final two months of the season leading up to March 11.

Once the offseason begins, Grant will have the option of picking up his $9.35MM player option and putting off unrestricted free agency until 2021 or opting out and becoming a free agent immediately. Given his age, performance, and contract situation, he’s one of a small handful of veterans likely to turn down a player option this year, as we detailed in May.

If Grant does opt out, it won’t necessarily signal the end of his time in Denver. He and the Nuggets could still work out a new contract, as he alluded to in his comments to Haynes. With Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee also headed for the open market, the Nuggets would have to decide which frontcourt pieces they’ll prioritize in free agency.

Tyler Bey's Possible Fit; Millsap Optimistic About Title For Denver

Nuggets forward Paul Millsap is optimistic about his squad’s title odds, per The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider. The 35-year-old veteran has hardly rested on his laurels during the two-month pandemic-mandated league shutdown. Millsap revealed in a team Instagram interview recently that he has focused his workouts around a plyometrics-strengthening program, working toward getting stronger and quicker than he was in March.

Millsap, a two-time All-Star with the Hawks, is earning $30.35MM in the final year of his contract with Denver. The 43-22 Nuggets, led by All-Star center Nikola Jokic and promising young point guard Jamal Murray, are the No. 3 seed in the West. Millsap thinks that the team’s familiarity will give them an edge in a season with so many changing faces among the league’s elite teams. “I think we have an advantage,” Millsap said. “We’ve been together probably longer than any team out there.”

  • Colorado University forward Tyler Bey could be an enticing fit for the Nuggets in the 2020 draft given his defensive skill set and rebounding skills. Bey’s raw offensive game and lack of a clear position at the level give The Denver Post’s Mike Singer pause about the fit. Elsewhere in his mailbag, Singer addresses other pressing Nuggets questions, including the Denver futures of post players Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, and Millsap.

Update From Colorado Governor; Examining MPJ's Rookie Year

  • Colorado Governor Jared Polis told Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic in an interview this week that he intends to give the green light to sports leagues to play games (without fans) in the state once they’re ready to do so. Polis’ comments primarily focus on MLB’s Rockies and NFL’s Broncos, since the Nuggets are extremely unlikely to play games at their home arena before 2020/21. Still, it’s a promising sign for next season for Colorado’s lone NBA franchise.
  • After missing the entire 2018/19 season, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. flashed some tantalizing potential during his de facto rookie year. With the help of former NBA team executive Seth Partnow, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic digs into Porter’s performance and explores what advanced data says about his play.

Northwest Notes: Barton, Niang, Nuggets

Nuggets guard Will Barton understands it may take awhile for players to get back into game shape due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 29-year-old is still mentally prepared to return to the hardwood, Alex Labidou of writes.

Barton discussed a number of topics with Katy Winge of Altitude, including returning to Denver’s practice facility, his thoughts on The Last Dance and more.

“You can try to do as much as you can, but without getting on the court and playing 5-on-5, nothing can prepare for game shape,” he told Winge, as relayed by Labidou.

Many practice facilities around the NBA are beginning to open with strict restrictions and protocols in place, allowing some players to return to a court for the first time in roughly two months.

In addition to Zoom calls and virtual training sessions, players have resorted to watching game film and weekly episodes of The Last Dance, and Barton is no exception.

“I don’t miss an episode… Mike [Jordan] was insane and I mean that in the best way possible,” Barton said. “Just how driven he was, his mindset mentally he was just different. We all know how gifted he was, how talented he was. But to get a live look into a mindset, what made him tick, is amazing.”

Here are some other notes out of the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz forward Georges Niang gave insight into his first workout at Utah’s practice facility, which was recently reopened amidst the coronavirus pandemic, as relayed by Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. “The guy that is on our training staff has to be in full [personal protective equipment] — whether that’s a mask, gloves; I know he’s carrying around a spray bottle and a towel,” Niang said. “So, basically every step that I take or wherever I go, that place is getting sprayed down.”
  • Nick Kosmider of The Athletic examines what the Nuggets must do in order to compete for a championship, listing seven questions to answer if the playoffs take place. Denver has a deep roster headlined by the likes of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, but the franchise has failed to achieve postseason success in recent years.
  • Harrison Wind of provides a peek into the Nuggets‘ first week of workouts back at the practice facility. Denver formally opened its facility last week, becoming one of the first teams to do so.

Assessing Grant's Fit In Denver

  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nuggets forward Jerami Grant seemed destined to opt out of the final season of his three-year, $27MM contract, per The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider. With the NBA’s 2020/21 salary cap now in question, Grant will probably stay in Denver, whether or not he picks up that option. Grant averaged an encouraging 11.6 PPG on 47.1% shooting from the field and 40% shooting from deep to go along with 3.5 RPG in just 26.2 MPG for the 43-22 Nuggets. Grant’s performance left much to be desired from an advanced statistics perspective, per Kosmider, who appraises Grant’s long-term fit with the squad.

Nuggets Conduct Virtual Locker Room Meetings

  • The Nuggets have created virtual locker rooms to stay in touch and engaged, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Rather than staying connected via e-mails and text messages, the Nuggets have conducted a handful of team Zoom calls.

Nuggets Have To Decide Whether To Bring Back Millsap

  • The Nuggets will face a difficult decision when Paul Millsap becomes a free agent this offseason, notes Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. They picked up a team option on Millsap last summer, but that was before they were able to acquire Jerami Grant from the Thunder. Grant is expected to opt out of a $9MM salary for next season and seek a multi-year deal. Millsap is Denver’s oldest player by far at age 35, and the Nuggets will have to determine if they can afford to keep both him and Grant.

Nuggets Postpone Reopening Date To Monday

Initially expected to be one of three teams opening their practice facilities for individual voluntary workouts on Friday, the Nuggets will delay their reopening until Monday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

May 8 is the first day that the NBA is permitting teams to reopen their buildings for individual player workouts, with strict regulations in place to help avoid the spread of the coronavirus. As far as we know, the other two teams expected to reopen today – the Cavaliers and Trail Blazers – are still moving forward with those plans.

The Nuggets will now join the Kings and Raptors as clubs targeting May 11 as their reopening date.

It remains to be seen how many players will take advantage of the newly-reopened facilities in Denver and elsewhere. Some players have access to their own workout equipment and private baskets and may not need to use a team facility. A few may stay away from team facilities for now due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

[RELATED: McCollum apprehensive about Blazers’ reopening facility]

Of course, not every player remained in his team’s home city during the NBA’s shutdown either. Mike Singer of The Denver Post said earlier this week that a “significant portion” of the Nuggets aren’t currently in Denver.

Multiple Teams Plan To Reopen Facilities On Friday

3:29pm: The Rockets have now postponed the target date for reopening their facility to May 18, according to Medina (via Twitter).

2:03pm: Although the NBA is still expected to allow teams to reopen practice facilities for individual voluntary workouts this Friday, only a small handful of clubs are expected to take advantage right away. The Rockets, Trail Blazers, and Nuggets intend to reopen their facilities on May 8, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt and Mark Medina. The Cavaliers will do so as well, per Chris Fedor of

Not all players have remained in their teams’ respective cities since the NBA suspended its season in March, so some Rockets, Blazers, Nuggets, and Cavs players may have to return from out of state before they can resume working out at their clubs’ facilities.

As Zillgitt and Medina detail, several other teams – including the Hawks, Heat, and Bucks – could reopen their facilities as early as next week. However, clubs like the Celtics, Mavericks, Grizzlies, and Timberwolves haven’t shared details on their plans, and many other teams will remain in limbo for the foreseeable future, deferring to local government ordinances and health experts.

The Warriors, for instance, are following the City of San Francisco’s lead, as Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. USA Today’s report suggests that Golden State is unlikely to reopen its facility until at least June, since the city’s stay-at-home order runs through May 31.

As for the teams that are opening this Friday, they’ll face strict regulations on the number of players who will be permitted into their facilities at a time (four), and how their workouts will be conducted (no group activities are allowed). The league recently issued a long, detailed memo outlining the safety measures that teams must put in place to reopen their buildings.

“This isn’t a hangout session for the guys,” a Cavaliers source told Fedor. “We’ve read the riot act – so to speak – to these guys. I think they are appreciative of us trying to find the right way to get the building open because they need the outlet and want to work out and this is the safest place for them to do it.”

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links), the NBA informed teams this week of updated measures on cardiac screening for certain players prior to their voluntary workouts. Clubs have also still been told not to conduct COVID-19 tests on asymptomatic players, since the league is sensitive to an ongoing shortage in some areas of the country. If and when the NBA is able to open camps for a resumption for the 2019/20 season, there’s an understanding those testing protocols would change, Woj adds.

Plumlee May Leave After Season

The Nuggets’ front office has focused on the draft during the hiatus and they could prioritize perimeter shooting, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic writes. Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith, Villanova’s Saddiq Bey, Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr. and Arizona’s Josh Green are among the wings who could be available with Denver’s first-round pick. The Nuggets traded away their pick but own the Rockets’ first-rounder, which currently puts them at No. 21 or 22 overall.

  • Mason Plumlee is a luxury that the Nuggets may not be able to afford after this season, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. The reserve center is a steady contributor due to his rebounding, passing and ability to finish on the break. He was also a featured piece in their defensive lineups but Plumlee will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and financial constraints may force the club to let him walk.
  • Guard Malik Beasley has already made his way into the Timberwolves’ long-term plans, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Beasley averaged 20.7 PPG in 14 games after he was acquired from the Nuggets. Beasley is noncommittal. “Right now it’s tough to decide for anything,” Beasley said. “We don’t even know if we’re playing or not, so it’s just tough to decide that.” Minnesota, which also holds Beasley’s Bird Rights, only has to extend a $3.9MM qualifying offer to make Beasley a restricted FA.