Nuggets Rumors

Tom Thibodeau Not Interested In Rebuilding

Despite the fact that Jimmy Butler seeking a trade out of Minnesota, head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau is reportedly averse to the idea of dealing his star swingman, preferring to keep Butler around and push for the playoffs again in 2018/19. As Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reports, citing multiple league sources, Thibodeau is even less inclined to move Butler in exchange for “young, rebuilding-type pieces.”

According to Deveney, Thibodeau initially made the move from Chicago to Minnesota because he thought that the Timberwolves were on the path to contention, and last summer’s acquisition of Butler was meant to accelerate that process. Dealing Butler for a package of young players and/or picks would mean taking a step back, and Thibodeau has “zero interest” in that scenario, Deveney notes.

“No one expects Tom to coach a 25-win or even 35-win team,” one front-office executive told Deveney. “Even if he has to agree to dissolve the contract, they’d do that before they go and trade Butler for draft picks.”

While it may be an exaggeration to suggest that Thibodeau would quit before he trades Butler for draft picks, it will be interesting to see whether he and owner Glen Taylor are on the same page when it comes to the All-NBA wing. While Taylor was certainly pleased that the Wolves’ playoff drought ended this past spring, he – like Thibodeau – likely wants to see a deeper postseason run next time around.

The middle ground between keeping Butler and moving him for a package of young players and picks would be to take the route the Spurs did with Kawhi Leonard, attempting to secure a return highlighted by win-now pieces. Of the three teams on Butler’s wish list, the Clippers may be best equipped to offer such a package, but Minnesota figures to expand its list of possible trade partners beyond just the Clippers, Knicks, and Nets.

As Deveney outlines, Minnesota plans to make Butler available to “any team.” The Heat have been cited as one club that could be in the mix, and rival executives believe the Suns and Nuggets will be among the others with interest, according to Deveney. As we’ve seen with Leonard and Paul George, high-profile trade candidates don’t always end up where we expect, so it’s worth keeping an eye on those other teams like Phoenix and Denver.

Nuggets To Sign Donald Sloan

The Nuggets appear set to fill the final spot on their 20-man offseason roster by signing veteran guard Donald Sloan, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Denver has 18 players officially under contract, but has reportedly reached a contract agreement with free agent guard Xavier Silas as well.

Sloan, 30, has played more than 200 regular season games over the course of his career, but hasn’t appeared in an NBA contest since 2015/16, when he saw action in 61 games for the Nets. Last season, he averaged 18.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 4.2 RPG in 24 games (34.6 MPG) for the Texas Legends, Dallas’ G League affiliate, before heading to China for a third stint with the Guangdong Southern Tigers.

As Wojnarowski notes, the Nuggets’ deal with Sloan comes in the heels of reports questioning Isaiah Thomas‘ availability this fall following March hip surgery.

As Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports relayed on Tuesday (via Twitter), team president of basketball operations Tim Connelly was evasive when asked about the point guard’s status, suggesting that the Nuggets “want Isaiah to be right” before he returns to the court. Sam Amick of USA Today added (via Twitter) that Thomas is unlikely to be ready for training camp and his timeline remains unclear. “It might be a while,” Amick notes.

Of course, even if Thomas isn’t healthy for the start of the regular season, there may not be room on the 15-man roster for Sloan. The Nuggets are currently carrying 15 players on guaranteed salaries, and would have to trade or release one of those players to retain Sloan. Instead, second-year point guard Monte Morris could have the opportunity to earn a regular role for Denver to open the season.

No Guarantee Porter Will Play This Season

The Nets, Knicks, Nuggets, Sixers and Lakers are potential landing spots for Jimmy Butler if the Timberwolves decide to trade him before he hits free agency next summer, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype opines. Butler is reportedly meeting with Minnesota’s brass on Monday to discuss his future with the organization. The Nets could offer a package featuring the Nuggets’ top-12 protected 2019 first-round pick, as well as defensive-minded wing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, while Denver could make either Jamal MurrayGary Harris and Michael Porter Jr. the centerpiece in a deal for the All-Star wing, Urbina adds.

  • Porter is trying to return to full strength after two back surgeries and there’s no guarantee he’ll play this season, Christopher Dempsey of the team’s website writes in a player profile. The Nuggets will keep him on the sidelines until they’re convinced the rookie forward won’t have any setbacks. There’s no timetable on when he will be ready to make his debut, Dempsey adds.

Nuggets Agree To Camp Deal With Xavier Silas

Guard Xavier Silas has agreed to a training camp contract with the Nuggets, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Silas, 30, made a couple of cameo appearances with the Celtics late last season after signing a 10-day contract.

The 6’5” shooting guard also played two games with the Sixers during the 2011/12 season. He spent most of last season with Northern Arizona in the G League, averaging 18.4 points in 43 games. Over the past five seasons, Silas has been with several G League teams and played overseas in Israel, Greece, Germany, Argentina and China. He also played with the Wizards during their 2014 training camp but didn’t make the opening-night roster.

Silas’ chances of making Denver’s opening-night roster are slim, considering the Nuggets already have 15 players with guaranteed deals. The Nuggets have plenty of options at the wing spots, including Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, Will Barton, Tyler Lydon, Torrey Craig, Jarred Vanderbilt, Emanuel Terry, first-round pick Michael Porter Jr. and two-way player DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Mitchell, Plumlee, Roth

Thunder guard and former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier this week. The procedure was described as “maintenance” and he will be re-evaluated in four weeks. Westbrook is expected to miss the preseason but his status for Oklahoma City’s season opener on October 17 is to be determined.

Westbrook is coming off another outstanding season for the Thunder as he averaged a triple-double for the second consecutive season. As The Oklahoman details, Westbrook’s injury already has had ripple effects on the Thunder roster and will continue to do so until his impending return.

Check out more Northwest Division notes below:

  • Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell had an outstanding rookie season for Utah, a season that would’ve earned him Rookie of the Year honors in nearly any other season. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype examines Mitchell skillset and projects how and when Mitchell could make the jump into superstar status.
  • Nuggets‘ big man Mason Plumlee needed offseason surgery after playing another season of at least 70 games. NBA.com previewed Plumlee’s upcoming 2018/19 campaign as he prepares to be Denver’s primary backup at center.
  • Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune looks at the Timberwolves‘ strategy for trying out players for the G League team. “Everybody’s just looking for the diamond in the rough,” Iowa Wolves coach and former Timberwolves player Scott Roth said. “Everybody wants the next Jonathan Simmons to walk into their building. 

Nuggets Notes: Season Outlook, Barton, Lyles, Beasley

Offensive prowess and chemistry could carry the Nuggets to the playoffs, Jordan Hicks of Basketball Insiders declares in his detailed season preview.  They finished sixth last season in points per game and fifth in assists and that should only improve with the free agent addition of Isaiah Thomas, Hicks continues. They also have a handful of core players who have been together for at least one season and their 0n-court chemistry is a major plus, Hicks adds.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Swingman Will Barton should move into the lineup at small forward, the first time he’s had a full-time starting spot, according to Nuggets insider Chris Dempsey. Barton re-signed with the club this summer on four-year, $53MM contract and that spot opened up when Denver traded away Wilson Chandler to the Sixers. Barton will essentially give the Nuggets a three-guard lineup, a look that was highly effective for them a season ago, Dempsey notes.
  • Forward Trey Lyles could be the team’s breakout player this season, Dempsey writes in another profile. Lyles could average 25 or more minutes per game and will be counted on, along with Thomas, to provide scoring punch off the bench, Dempsey continues. Lyles excelled in nearly every offensive action last season, Dempsey notes, providing the best combination of 3-point shooting and post-ups other than Nikola Jokic.
  • Shooting guard Malik Beasley is poised to see an uptick in minutes, Dempsey predicts in still another player profile. Beasley showed defensive tenacity during summer league games and he’s worked diligently on his jump shooting and ball-handling, Dempsey adds. Beasley appeared in 62 games last season but averaged just 9.5 MPG.

Hernangomez Could Play Bigger Role

  • Nuggets forward Juan Hernangomez could enjoy a bounce-back season, Christopher Dempsey of the Nuggets’ website opines. Hernangomez appeared in just 25 games last season after seeing action in 62 games the previous campaign, in part due to a bout with mononucleosis, Dempsey notes. Hernangomez could play a bigger role off the bench this season because of his long-range shooting and hustle, Dempsey adds.

Nuggets Adding Mark Price To Coaching Staff

Former NBA star Mark Price will join the Nuggets’ coaching staff, according to a post by Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN Now.

Price has held a variety of coaching positions since his playing career ended in 1998. His last job was as a college coach with Charlotte before being let go in December of last year. He has previous NBA experience with the Nuggets, Hawks, Warriors, Magic and Hornets.

One of the league’s most accomplished shooters during his 12-year playing career, Price served as a shooting instructor with the Hornets, which will also be part of his job in Denver.

Earlier today, the Nuggets added Charles Klask to their coaching staff (Twitter link). Klask has been an NBA assistant since 2011 and most recently worked for Stan Van Gundy in Detroit.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Nader, Schroder, Millsap

The Timberwolves have hosted a handful of free agents for a workout this week, with Marcus Georges-Hunt, Rashad Vaughn, and John Jenkins among the latest players to earn a look from Minnesota, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 (Twitter link) also adds Eric Moreland to the list of players auditioned by the Wolves.

Nick Young, Arron Afflalo and Corey Brewer worked out for the Timberwolves too, but according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, a number of agents believe the Wolves simply plan to sign Luol Deng, making them reluctant to send their players for a workout with the team. Minnesota reportedly launched its pursuit of Deng this week.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Following his trade from the Celtics this summer, Thunder forward Abdel Nader is looking forward to his new opportunity with the team, relays Nick Gallo of OKCThunder.com. “It’s great,” Nader said. “I met a lot of the younger guys mostly, and even Russ, PG, Raymond (Felton). Everybody has been great. It’s a great group of guys. High character guys. I’m just really excited to be able to start playing with this team and build chemistry on the court as well as off the court.”
  • Dennis Schroder, who was also traded to the Thunder this summer, discussed his upcoming season, the difficulties he faced growing up in Germany and the advice he received from Dirk Nowitzki in a separate piece written by Nick Gallo. Schroder will provide depth off the bench behind All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook this season.
  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap is set to start the season injury-free after wrist surgery forced him to miss 44 games last year, as detailed by Chris Dempsey of Nuggets.com. Millsap will be relied upon to anchor Denver’s defense and stretch the club’s offense.

Sixers Add Four Names To GM Search

The Sixers are expanding the list of candidates for their vacant GM job and will interview four more prospects next week, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Former Sixers player Elton Brand is joined on the list by fellow team executives Marc Eversley, Ned Cohen and Alex Rucker.

Philadelphia began interviews for the opening this week after receiving permission to talk with Larry Harris of the Warriors, Gersson Rosas of the Rockets and Justin Zanik of the Jazz. The organization has been operating without a GM since Bryan Colangelo departed in June amid charges of releasing sensitive information on Twitter. Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas was scheduled to interview as well, but decided to decline the opportunity, Pompey adds (Twitter link).

Brand played for five teams in a 17-year NBA career, finishing up with the Sixers in 2016. He is vice president of basketball operations in Philadelphia and serves as GM for the Delaware Blue Coats, the organization’s G League affiliate. Cohen is the Sixers’ assistant GM, Eversley is senior VP of player personnel and Rucker is senior VP of analytics and strategy. All four were promoted to their current positions after Colangelo left.