Denver Nuggets

Nuggets To Pursue Extension With Gary Harris

Gary Harris will be eligible for a rookie contract extension this summer and the Nuggets don’t want to waste any time locking him up long-term, Christopher Dempsey of Altitude Sports relays.

“Gary’s going to be here for a long, long time,” GM Tim Connelly said. “He’s a guy that kind of embodies everything that we’re trying to be, both as a player and as a person,” Connelly said. “Whether it’s this summer or whether it’s the following summer, he’s going to be here for a very long time.”

Harris, who was selected with the No.19 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, is averaging career highs in points, assists, and rebounds per game as well as 3-point percentage and overall field goal percentage this season. He’s become a core member of the Nuggets, someone who can contribute to the team’s goal of making the playoffs and competing for the title down the road. Connelly always envisioned Harris taking the necessary steps to elevate his game.

“Sometimes you have to go with your gut – 6-4, long arm, fast-twitch athlete with a nose for the ball defensively who can make shots and cares,” Connelly said. “I think you can get too lost at times in analytics and too lost at times not seeing the forest for the trees. Now, he’s taken a monstrous step.”

Despite Shooting Slump, Jokic A Solid MIP Candidate

  • The Nuggets aren’t concerned that Nikola Jokic has gone through a bit of a slump from the outside, Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post writes. “He’s shown that he can make that shot, and he’s a skilled player,” head coach Michael Malone said. “To his point, you don’t want any of your bigs to become reliant upon the shot. He’s one of your best finishers around the basket. … If he’s open from the 3-point line, sure. Feel the game, feel the situation, but we like putting him at the post and at the elbows, and his versatility is what makes him such a special player.
  • Jokic is making a case for the Most Improved Player of the Year award, Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post says. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone is well aware of how impressive his young center has been. “The numbers that Nikola Jokic are putting up are just a joke,” he said.

Potential 2017 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, includes a number of changes to the free agent process, including some that apply specifically to restricted free agents. However, one aspect of restricted free agency unaffected by the new CBA is what’s referred to as the “starter criteria,” which can affect how much an RFA’s qualifying offer will be worth.

Here’s how the starter criteria works: A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2015/16 and 35 in 2016/17, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons exceeds 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player ensures that a team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet, and gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO. Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. Still, those QOs can have an impact on a team’s salary cap outlook during July’s free agent period, so it’s worth checking in to see which potential RFAs will be eligible for higher or lower qualifying offers this summer.

Listed below are the top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,187,598.

Len and Noel had the worst QO luck this season. As the fifth and sixth overall picks in 2013, they would have been in line for qualifying offers worth about $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively. Instead, their QOs will be worth less than $4.2MM. Both players were very close to meeting the starter criteria too — they’ve started 77 games apiece in the past two years, so they’ll fall just short of the 82 required.

The players listed below are non-lottery first-round picks who will meet the starter criteria. That will make each of them eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,588,840.

All four of these players were selected in the 20-26 range in the 2013 draft, and their QOs would’ve ranged from about $3.39MM to $3.22MM if they hadn’t met the starter criteria.

Here are the rest of the RFAs whose qualifying offers won’t necessarily be determined by the standard criteria:

  • Undrafted power forward JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) has met the starter criteria, putting him in line for a QO worth $2,820,497 instead of the more modest amount he would’ve received as a minimum-salary player.
  • Two players – Joe Ingles (Jazz) and Ben McLemore (Kings) – still have a chance to meet the starter criteria depending on how the season’s last four days play out. Ingles has played 1,848 minutes this season, meaning he would have to average about 38 MPG in Utah’s last four contests to reach 2,000, which is a tall order. McLemore may fall just short as well, as he currently sits at 79 starts over the last two seasons. He’ll need to start three of the Kings’ last four games in order to average 41 starts per year, but he has only been in Sacramento’s starting lineup twice since the start of March. (End-of-season update: Neither Ingles nor McLemore met the starter criteria.)

Nuggets Notes: Mudiay, Hibbert, Roberson

The Nuggets like what they see out of Emmanuel Mudiay since he’s re-entered the rotation, Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post writes. “He’s worked very hard since he’s been taken out of that rotation. He has a lot of confidence and he should. He’s played good basketball for us at times,” coach Mike Malone said. Mudiay, who was the No.7 overall pick in the 2015 draft, was rumored to be available at the trade deadline.

In a separate piece, Kosmider answers numerous questions about the Nuggets’ future. Here are the highlights from that piece:

  • Kosmider explains why the Nuggets traded for Roy Hibbert. Denver was under the salary floor and Hibbert’s $5MM deal moved the team closer to it. The scribe adds that if the franchise somehow makes the playoffs, Hibbert could be useful in certain situations.
  • The Nuggets’ biggest needs are perimeter defense and rim protection, Kosmider writes. The scribe believes Andre Roberson, who will be a restricted free agent, could be a player to watch.
  • While Portland appears to have won the Jusuf NurkicMason Plumlee swap, it doesn’t mean the Nuggets made a bad trade, Kosmider argues. Nurkic wouldn’t have started with Nikola Jokic on the team and he wouldn’t have been happy coming off the bench. Plumlee is more a facilitator and he’s better suited to run with the second unit.
  • Denver won’t move veterans for the sake of opening up playing time for its younger players, Kosmider cautions. The Nuggets will enter next season expecting to make the playoffs, though they are expected to listen to offers on their older players this summer.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 4/2/17

Here are Sunday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Rockets have recalled Isaiah Taylor and Troy Williams from their affiliate in Rio Grande Valley, the team tweeted. Neither has appeared in a game yet for Houston, but Williams will be used as a starter tonight, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • The Nuggets have recalled Malik Beasley from Sioux Falls, the team announced on its website. The rookie guard, who has played 16 games for the Skyforce, will be available for tonight’s contest at Miami.
  • The Cavs recalled Larry Sanders from the Canton Charge, the team announced on its official website (link). Sanders, who has averaged eight rebounds with six points in the D-League, will presumably be available for tonight’s match-up with the Pacers. The former Buck has gone scoreless in two NBA appearances in 2016/17.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Nuggets, Favors, Wolves

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic suffered the fracture in his right leg Tuesday against the Nuggets, tweets Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. He played 32 minutes in Thursday’s game before the injury was discovered on Friday. Nurkic will be out of action for at least two weeks, and Portland is hoping he can be ready for the playoffs. “It just depends how I feel,” Nurkic said. “The doctor said, ‘He’s tough,’ and if it doesn’t hurt I’m going to be back.” (Twitter link). Blazers coach Terry Stotts plans to use a “committee” approach at center while Nurkic is out, with Meyers Leonard getting the start tonight (Twitter link).

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • After losing three straight and falling two games behind Portland in the race for the final playoff spot, Nuggets coach Michael Malone wants his team to close out the season “the right way,” relays Christopher Dempsey on “If we do finish the right way, maybe other things happen and we give ourselves a chance,” Malone said. “I want to find guys that when everything looks bleak, who is going to go out there and play anyway. … Going forward, I will find a group of five guys, vets or young guys, whoever it may be, to go out there and play and play as hard as possible.” Denver has to overcome injury problems as it tries to save its season. Will Barton, Darrell Arthur and Jameer Nelson are all questionable for Sunday’s game at Miami and possibly beyond.
  • The Jazz are hoping injured forward Derrick Favors can return before the end of the regular season, according to Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. A bone bruise in his left knee has kept Favors sidelined since March 6th, but coach Quin Snyder said Friday that he is “hopeful” about Favors coming back.
  • Despite having some of the most exciting young players in the league, attendance remains a problem for the Timberwolves, notes Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune. Even though the crowds have been trending upward, Minnesota is last in the NBA with an average of 14,584 fans per night. The Wolves are getting about 4% larger crowds than they did last season, but it will take success on the court for that number to increase significantly.

Kiszla: Why Nuggets Should Move Chandler, Pursue Hayward

Community Shootaround: Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are carving up opposing teams with their efficient offense, which has led to an impressive month of March. During the month, Denver leads the league in offensive rating and the team pulled off some unthinkable upsets, notching wins over the Celtics, Clippers, and Cavs.

The development of Nikola Jokic has been a major reason why the team is finding success, but it’s also a result of several other factors, such as coach Mike Malone’s decision to start 35-year-old Jameer Nelson at point guard. Nelson hasn’t been statistically great, but just like a game manager at the quarterback position in the NFL, he helps his team by making the right decisions and reducing risk. Out of all guards averaging at least 30 minutes a night, Ricky Rubio is the only player with a better assist-to-turnover ratio than Nelson during the month of March.

Denver’s success has propelled them into the lead in the Western Conference’s eighth seed race. Entering the day, the Nuggets sit 1.5 games ahead of the Blazers and 3.5 games ahead of the Mavericks.

That leads us to tonight’s topic: Do you think the Nuggets hold onto the eighth seed and make the playoffs? If they do, how many games can they win either against a Warriors squad that may not have Kevin Durant or against a Spurs team that may face issues because of its aging backcourt?

If you don’t think the team can sustain its level of success or you don’t believe it will fare well once it reaches the postseason, let us know what moves the team should make this offseason to upgrade the roster. Tonight’s shootaround is all about the Nuggets. Take to the comment section below to share your thoughts on the team. We look forward to what you have to say!

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 3/22/17

Here are Wednesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Nuggets have assigned Malik Beasley to their D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, according to a team press release. This will be Beasley’s sixth assignment this season.
  • The Bulls have recalled Cameron Payne from the Windy City Bulls, according to a team press release. Payne played for Chicago’s D-League affiliate on Tuesday, scoring 22 points in 25 minutes.
  • The Raptors have recalled Pascal Siakam from their D-League affiliate, the Raptors 905, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Siakam is one of several 2016 first-rounders whom have been sent to the D-League this season, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors details.
  • The Cavaliers have assigned Kay Felder to the Canton Charge, according to the team’s website. Felder has appeared in nine games for Cleveland’s D-League affiliate, scoring 30.4 points per game.
  • The Warriors have assigned Kevon Looney to the Santa Cruz Warriors, according to the team’s website. Looney has appeared in three games for the Warriors’ D-League affiliate this season.

Pacers Rumors: George, Stuckey, Henson, Hayward

Although the Pacers engaged in Paul George trade talks prior to last month’s deadline with at least the Celtics, Hawks, Sixers, and Nuggets, the team never seemed serious about moving him, league sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. The club’s desire to keep George in Indiana is a key theme in Lowe’s deep dive on the Pacers, with team president Larry Bird expressing a willingness to spend all he can to build a competitive roster around his star forward.

“I have a budget,” Bird said. “Whatever that budget is, I’ll spend it. Sometimes, we can’t go after max guys, or players we really think could help us, because of our budget.

“Paul wants to compete for a title,” Bird added. “We want Paul here. He has expressed that he wants to be here. That could change overnight. You never know. But whatever I can spend, I’m going to spend.”

Here’s more from Lowe on the Pacers:

  • Prior to the trade deadline, the Pacers explored the possibility of trading veteran guard Rodney Stuckey for a backup rim protector. According to Lowe, John Henson of the Bucks was one player Indiana was eyeing in such a deal.
  • A February report indicated that the Pacers had made their 2017 first-round pick available in trade discussions as they looked to fortify their roster around George. That pick ultimately didn’t change hands, but it will be on the block again in June, Bird confirms.
  • Sources tell Lowe that George would “love” to play with Gordon Hayward, who will likely become an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, as Lowe notes, the odds of Hayward signing with the Pacers probably aren’t great.
  • Here’s what George told Lowe about this year’s Pacers team: “This season has been a reality check. You think you are gonna be in those playoff battles, playing alongside those guys forever. You have to try and recapture that moment. And that moment for us was having a strong chemistry and identity. We don’t have one now. I’ve never been on a team without an identity — without a toughness identity.”
  • According to Lowe, GM Kevin Pritchard – Bird’s “top deputy” – is currently on a contract that will expire at season’s end. The Pacers will have to lock up Pritchard to a new deal soon or risk losing him to another club.
  • Whatever route Indiana takes this summer, a full-scale rebuild likely isn’t on the table. Lowe points out that the Pacers haven’t won fewer than 32 games or drafted higher than 10th in nearly three decades, with Bird saying of tanking, “We can’t do that around here.”
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