Denver Nuggets

Murray Undergoes Successful Surgery

After an excellent debut season with the Nuggets, 20-year-old guard Jamal Murray has undergone successful surgery to repair “core muscle-related” injuries, the team has stated in a press release.

When the procedure was announced by Nuggets personnel yesterday, we relayed that the rookie had been plagued by a sports hernia for much of the season.

The Kentucky product averaged 9.9 points per game for the Nuggets and played in all 82 contests, once taking Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors.

Murray is expected to return to basketball activities this summer and will be at full strength when the Nuggets open training camp.

Nuggets GM Discusses Nurkic, Gallinari, Defense

Earlier tonight, we shared Nuggets GM Tim Connelly’s announcement that rookie guard Jamal Murray will have surgery tomorrow. Here are a few other highlights of Connelly’s radio interview with Altitude Sports 950, all tweeted by Chris Dempsey:

  • Although Jusuf Nurkic blossomed into a key player in Portland, Connelly doesn’t regret the February deal that sent him to the Trail Blazers. Portland acquired Nurkic and a first-round pick this year in exchange for Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-rounder. “We think Mason is going to be a huge piece of our core,” Connelly said.
  • Re-signing free agent forward Danilo Gallinari will be the top off-season priority. Gallinari has been with the Nuggets since 2011 when he was acquired in the Carmelo Anthony deal. Connelly also hopes to reach a new deal with Plumlee, who will be a restricted free agent, and work out an extension for third-year guard Gary Harris.
  • Another objective is to add a stronger defensive presence around breakout star Nikola Jokic.
  • Connelly believed 39 wins would be enough to grab the West’s final playoff spot. The Nuggets finished 40-42, but Portland was a game better. Connelly insists he would have been more active at the trade deadline if he had known the team would miss the postseason.
  • The organization is making progress in changing the league-wide perception about Denver as a place to play and live. Connelly said several lottery prospects in a recent draft were “begging” the Nuggets to select them because they wanted to be in the city.
  • The team needs a “pecking order” in the locker room, with a strong veteran presence to guide younger players. “Maybe our biggest struggle since I’ve been here,” Connelly said, “is we haven’t had a pecking order.” He adds that the organization has also encountered problems with “role acceptance” among players.

Nuggets GM: Jamal Murray To Have Surgery

Surgery is planned Thursday for Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, tweets Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports. Denver GM Tim Connelly made the announcement this afternoon in a radio interview with Altitude Sports 950.

The surgery is for a “couple” of injuries (Twitter link), including a sports hernia that bothered Murray for much of the season, tweets Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post.

The seventh pick in last summer’s draft, Murray had a productive rookie season despite the ailments. He appeared in all 82 games, starting 10, and averaged 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night.

Murray was named to the Rising Stars Challenge and earned MVP honors with a 36-point, 11-assist performance.

Could Nuggets Look To Free Agent Market To Improve On Defense?

  • Improving on the defensive end will be a top priority for the Nuggets and the team may look to the free agent market this summer to find upgrades, Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post speculates in his latest mailbag. The scribe names Gibson, Blake Griffin, and Serge Ibaka among the players who could help the team improve on that end of the floor.

Gallinari To Opt Out, Prefers To Stay With Nuggets

Danilo Gallinari plans to opt out of his contract, but remaining in Denver is his first choice, he said in an interview with BlitzTV. The interview was conducted in Italian, but a small excerpt was translated by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Gallinari, who is scheduled to make $16.1MM next season, will be seeking a long-term deal. Nuggets GM Tim Connelly has said the organization is taking a “wait and see” approach about re-signing the veteran forward, and the Celtics are among the teams expected to be interested if he hits the open market.

“The relationship between me, the city and the organization is great,” Gallinari said. “This is the reason why I would love to reach an agreement to remain in Denver. I love it here. And I would love to remain with the Nuggets.” 

Gallinari has been with Denver since midway through the 2010/11 season, when the Knicks included him in the Carmelo Anthony trade. The 28-year-old averaged 18.2 points and 5.2 rebounds this season and appeared in 63 games, the most since knee surgery forced him to miss all of the 2013/14 season.

Four Teams Finished Below 2016/17 Salary Floor

Four NBA teams finished the 2016/17 season below the league’s salary floor and will have to make up the difference by paying a little extra money to the players who finished the season on their respective rosters. The Nets, Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Jazz each fell short of the $84.729MM floor this season.

While the 2016/17 league year isn’t over yet, the end of the regular season last week signaled the “snapshot” day for luxury tax and salary floor purposes. Teams are required to spend at least 90% of the salary cap in each NBA season, though the penalties for failing to do so aren’t exactly punitive. If a club falls $2MM short of the salary floor, for instance, it must pay that $2MM to players on its roster to reach the floor.

Our numbers aren’t official, but they should very closely resemble the NBA’s final figures. Bobby Marks of The Vertical confirmed last week that Brooklyn, Denver, Minnesota, and Utah finished below the salary floor. Here’s what those team’s end-of-season cap figures look like, per our Salary Cap Snapshots:

While the current CBA doesn’t include a set formula that teams must adhere to when distributing the salary floor shortfall to their players, it’s believed that players generally receive proportional amounts based on their salaries, rather than even splits. So for the Jazz, a player like Gordon Hayward would receive a larger share than Joel Bolomboy.

With the NBA’s salary cap expected to increase to at least $101MM in 2017/18, the league’s salary floor appears likely to exceed $90MM next season.

Mike Malone Deserves More Time

Mavs Notes: Curry, Noel, Hammons, Harris, Cuban

On the heels of a 33-49 season, the Mavericks will focus on improving their roster via free agency and the draft. Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News suggested two veteran FAs to provide an immediate boost: Serge Ibaka and J.J. Redick. Sefko explains that Ibaka is a “big-time rebounder” who is still relatively young, while Redick would help shore up the team’s mediocre shooting.

Sefko cautions against hoping for a point guard improvement through the draft. Unless the Mavs “get lucky” and secure one of the top two picks, they’re unlikely to obtain a top-shelf guard. In the event Dallas winds up with the 8, 9, or 10 pick, Sefko cites Jonathan Isaac, Miles Bridges, and Lauri Markkanen as potential fits.

More from Dallas…

  • Seth Curry, who missed the season’s final seven games due to a left shoulder injury, hopes to avoid undergoing surgery over the offseason. “It’s still a possibility, but I don’t think it’s necessary at this point,” Curry told Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
  • Former Purdue Boilermaker A.J. Hammons got his feet wet in the NBA this past season, scoring 43 points with 36 rebounds over 22 games. While Hammons’ contract is guaranteed over the next two seasons, Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News is skeptical of his role on the team in 2017/18. “I like the big guy, but I haven’t seen a passion for wanting to improve,” Sefko writes. “He loves to sit out there and launch jump shots. But I think his calling in this league has to be as a strong rebounder and rim protector. My bottom line: doubtful that he is here next season.”
  • While he appears set to enter the market as a restricted free agent, Nerlens Noel‘s recent remarks to Brad Townsend of Dallas Morning News imply he’d like another season in Dallas. “I love Dallas,” Noel said. “In my short time here, I’ve really enjoyed it. With the pieces that we have, and the opportunities we’ll be seeing in the near-future, I think there’s a lot to be excited for.” 
  • While Devin Harris isn’t a lock to start next season with Dallas, one thing is certain: the 34-year-old isn’t retiring. “Definitely not retiring,” Harris told Adam Grosbard of Dallas Morning News. The Mavs are unsure whether they will exercise Harris’ $4.4MM option for 2017/18. Harris averaged 16/7 minutes in 2016/17; the lowest total since his rookie season. “Ball’s in their court. I just let the chips fall where they may and try to make the best decision possible with the information that I have.”
  • In a 109-91 loss to the Nuggets- the Mavs’ penultimate game of the season- coach Rick Carlisle gave six players 25-years-old or younger significant playing time. Mark Cuban spoke to Adam Grosbard of Dallas Morning News, explaining the strategy of giving younger players minutes down the stretch. “When we were playing for it, we obviously had some bad games but it’s obvious our young guys are getting better. And that’s all you can ask for,” Cuban said. Dirk Nowtizki seconded Cuban’s remarks, adding “It’s been fun to watch these kids.”

Nuggets Notes: Plumlee, Trades, Jokic

Denver plans on bringing Mason Plumlee back on a new contract, Christopher Dempsey of Altitude Sports writes.

“Mase brought a lot of what we thought he would bring – intensity, a vertical threat at the rim,” GM Tim Connelly said. “An athletic big. A very good passer. It’s not an easy transition going from a starter to the third or fourth big. … When we traded for him, we traded for him for the purpose of bringing him back. Barring something unforeseen or some dramatic shift, we’re pretty excited to talk to his representatives this summer and figure something out.”

Plumlee, who’s a restricted free agent, came to the Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic at this year’s deadline.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • The Nuggets are more likely to make major changes via trade since they will have only a handful of open roster spots this offseason, Dempsey adds in the same piece. Connelly believes he has a roster full of players who should be coveted on the trade market because they’ve outperformed their contracts. “I think what’s interesting about our team is we have a lot of good players,” Connelly said. “And I think relative to their contracts, most of our guys outperformed their contracts, which is a testament to our coaching and player development.”
  • Denver knows it has a rising star in Nikola Jokic, but it doesn’t want to put too much pressure on him next season, Dempsey relays in the same piece. “He’s only 22,” the GM said. “He’d be the first one to tell you it’s a team game. He’s probably the least stat-aware guy on the team. But certainly we’re playing a certain way now and having success playing that way primarily because of his unique skill set and the coaches confidence in him.”
  • Connelly explains how the team has a better sense than it has in the past on which players should be the franchise’s core members, Dempsey passes along in the same piece. “Some of these guys have cemented their place in next year’s role already,” Connelly said. “There’s a handful of guys that you know what you’re going to get, and I think coach trusts them and those are guys we are going to take a long-term approach with and feel good about growing with.”
  • Danilo Gallinari is going to take some time to decide whether or not he’ll decline his player option, USA Today relays.  “It’s not time right now to make the decision,” said Gallinari. “Right now, it’s time to digest the fact we were not able to accomplish the goal [of the playoffs] that I had, that we had, at the beginning of the season.” The franchise would also like Gallinari to stick around beyond his current deal, but it’s taking a wait-and-see approach with him.
  • The Nuggets plan to be aggressive in their attempts to lock up Gary Harris long-term, as we passed along on Wednesday.

2017 NBA Draft Lottery Odds

With the NBA’s 2016/17 regular season now in the books, the odds for this year’s draft lottery have been set. With the help of our Reverse Standings, as well as information from LotteryBucket.com, here is the 2017 lottery order, along with each team’s chances of landing a top pick:

  1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets)
    • No. 1: 25.0%
    • Top-3: 64.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 4
    • Note: Celtics acquire pick due to ability to swap first-round picks with Nets.
  2. Phoenix Suns
    • No. 1: 19.9%
    • Top-3: 55.8%
    • Lowest pick: No. 5
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
    • No. 1: 15.6%
    • Top-3: 46.9%
    • Lowest pick: No. 6
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Sixers if not in top 3 (odds: 53.1%).
  4. Philadelphia 76ers
    • No. 1: 14.7%
    • Top-3: 45.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 7
    • Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, so their No. 1 and top-3 odds are a little higher than they otherwise would be. No. 1 and top-3 odds for Sixers’ own pick are 11.9% and 37.8%, respectively.
  5. Orlando Magic
    • No. 1: 8.8%
    • Top-3: 29.12%
    • Lowest pick: No. 8
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • Top-3: 18.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 9
    • Note: Timberwolves won tiebreaker with Knicks.
  7. New York Knicks
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • Top-3: 18.2%
    • Lowest pick: No. 10
    • Note: Knicks lost tiebreaker with Timberwolves.
  8. Sacramento Kings
    • No. 1: N/A
    • Top-3: 2.5%
    • Lowest pick: No. 11
    • Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, rendering No. 1 pick impossible and greatly reducing odds of top-3 pick.
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Bulls if not in top 10 (odds: 0.01%).
  9. Dallas Mavericks
    • No. 1: 1.7%
    • Top-3: 6.1%
    • Lowest pick: No. 12
  10. New Orleans Pelicans
    • No. 1: 1.1%
    • Top-3: 4.0%
    • Lowest pick: No. 13
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Kings if not in top 3 (odds: 96.0%).
  11. Charlotte Hornets
    • No. 1: 0.8%
    • Top-3: 2.9%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  12. Detroit Pistons
    • No. 1: 0.7%
    • Top-3: 2.5%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  13. Denver Nuggets
    • No. 1: 0.6%
    • Top-3: 2.2%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  14. Miami Heat
    • No. 1: 0.5%
    • Top-3: 1.8%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
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