Jamal Murray

Nuggets Notes: Beasley, Porter, Hernangomez, Malone

Nuggets coach Michael Malone credits reserve guard Malik Beasley for not sulking during a difficult season, Mike Singer of the Denver Post relays. Beasley, who can be a restricted free agent this summer if the Nuggets extend a qualifying offer, got extended minutes on Thursday with Jamal Murray and Gary Harris sidelined and took advantage. He scored a season-high 27 points in an overtime win over Golden State. Beasley hasn’t received steady playing time but Malone says Beasley has handled it professionally.

“You have a choice, as a man, you have a choice,” Malone said. “Am I gonna feel sorry for myself or am I gonna stay ready? And to his credit he’s continued to stay ready.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Malone vows to keep rookie Michael Porter Jr. in the rotation going forward, Singer tweets “Earlier in the season, he wasn’t sure when he was going to be playing, is he going to be playing? So now, that’s out the window,” he said. “Michael Porter is a huge part of our future, he’s going to play every night.” Porter has reached double figures in each of his last three games, including an 18-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist performance against the Warriors.
  • Trading forward Juan Hernangomez would negatively impact the locker room, Singer opines in his latest mailbag. Hernangomez has a major influence on team chemistry and is close friends with Nikola Jokic, Singer notes. Jokic, Murray and Porter are the team’s untouchables in trade discussions, Singer adds.
  • Malone is glad to be coaching a playoff contender that didn’t take shortcuts to success, as he explained to Michael Lee of The Athletic. Malone notes that Denver hasn’t gone for the quick fix. “For me, this being my fifth year, that’s maybe one of the more enjoyable things about our journey, is how we’ve been able to build this from the ground up and build it from within, organically,” he said. “We haven’t gone out and traded for the marquee player. We haven’t mortgaged our future by sending these two young assets to here, to rent a player for a year or two, to have instant success, but not long-term success. It speaks to our front office, our ownership that we can continue to communicate and collaborate and challenge each other.”

Jamal Murray Expected To Miss Time

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray underwent testing on his injured left ankle and while the results came back clean, he is expected to miss multiple games as a result of the ailment, Nick Kosmider and Shams Charania of The Athletic report (Twitter link).

Murray exited the Nuggets’ game against the Hornets after coming down awkwardly on his ankle, and the injury has since been diagnosed as a sprain. PJ Dozier stepped up in his place and Denver was able to win the contest.

Murray, who signed a $170M extension prior to the season, is averaging 17.6 points and 4.6 assists per game so far during the 2019/20 campaign. He’ll miss Denver’s game against Golden State tonight, the contest vs. the Pacers on Sunday, and the trip to Minnesota on Monday. After those games, Denver has the a pair of matchups against the Rockets and a tilt with the Pelicans on deck.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Murray, Wolves, Jazz

Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said he considers expanding Michael Porter Jr.‘s role “everyday”

“I really do,” Malone said (via Mike Singer of The Denver Post). “We met as a staff yesterday and today, this morning prior to shootaround, when you’re 1-4 [over the last five games] and your offense is kind of holding you back, you have to have all options on the table.”

Heading into the night, Porter was averaging just 8.6 minutes per game and has appeared in just 10 contests for Denver.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jamal Murray left the Nuggets‘ contest tonight with a torso injury, Singer tweets. The point guard injured himself during a collision with Ben Simmons. There’s no word yet on the severity of the ailment.
  • Matt John of Basketball Insiders examines whether the Timberwolves will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. Minnesota would like to add more talent, though its hard to envision the team making a substantial trade without including one of its core pieces.
  • The Jazz remain buyers and could certainly use some help after a disappointing start to the 2019/20 campaign, John writes in the same piece. Utah’s bench has struggled and adding depth could be the key to turning around the club’s season.

Nuggets Notes: Bol, Malone, Rotation, Porter, Craig, Murray

The Nuggets have recalled rookie center Bol Bol from the G League but they’re not burning any of the 45 days he’s allotted to spend in the NBA on his two-way contract, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

Bol is expected to remain with the Nuggets for a couple of weeks but won’t practice or play before being sent back down to the Windy City Bulls. He’ll be listed as out due to “injury management” for his surgically repaired left foot, Singer adds. Bol has averaged 11.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 2.3 BPG in less than 17 MPG with Windy City.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • The league has instituted coach’s challenges this season but like many of the men who patrol the sidelines, Michael Malone likes to save his challenge for crunch time, Eric Spyropoulos of the team’s website notes. “As you see it kind of play out, most coaches like to keep it (the challenge) in their pocket for late game situations. The only time I can see using it early is if you’re trying to protect a great player (from foul trouble),” Malone said.
  • The Nuggets have plenty of depth, which has created a pleasant dilemma for Malone on a game-by-game basis, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic points out. Mason Plumlee, Monte Morris and Jerami Grant have defined reserve roles but Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernangomez, Michael Porter Jr. and Malik Beasley have seen major fluctuations in playing time. “It’s not easy from a player or coach’s standpoint,” Plumlee said. “But I’ll say guys have handled it as well as any team I’ve been on.”
  • Porter has appeared in 10 games, averaging 3.8 PPG in 9.0 MPG, and Malone hopes to expand his role, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic“I have to find ways to play him this year,” Malone said. “This cannot be a wasted year for him.”
  • Craig has lost playing time but he’s not creating any problems in the locker room, Singer relays in a separate story“We all get along, we’re all happy for each other when each other have success,” he said. “I’m not one to sit here and pout when my teammates are doing good. If they’re doing good and we’re winning, I’m happy.”
  • Jamal Murray will play for Team Canada next summer, Michael Grange of Sportsnet Canada reports. Canada will host an Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, B.C. in late June, and then head to Tokyo if the team snags one of the six remaining spots in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

Western Notes: Morant, Harrell, Hood, Gasol, Murray

The Grizzlies are playing Ja Morant limited minutes and they plan to keep it that way for the foreseeable future, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. Morant played fewer than 30 minutes in four of his first five games, with the exception coming during an overtime game. Coach Taylor Jenkins hopes the approach will keep the second overall pick and anointed floor leader fresh during the 82-game schedule. “I’ve always been a big believer, you start playing in the mid-30s (minutes per game) you kind of wear down,” Jenkins said. “Our rookies, including him, have never played 82 games in a season.”

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Forward Montrezl Harrell continues to prove his worth to the Clippers, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times writes. Harrell, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, is averaging 19.3 PPG and 5.9 RPG to help the team weather the injury absence of Paul George. After acquiring him in the Chris Paul deal with Houston, the Clippers were so unsure about Harrell that they considered waiving him during the summer of 2017, according to Elliott.
  • Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood suffered a knee injury on Saturday but he didn’t sustain any structural damage, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports. The team’s medical staff determined that Hood has a bone bruise. Hood re-signed with Portland this offseason on a two-year, $11.7MM contract. Veteran center Pau Gasol, who joined Portland on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, has ramped up his workouts as he continues rehab from offseason foot surgery. Gasol did a series of shooting drills after a shootaround last week.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has become a more vocal leader this season and his teammates appreciate the change, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic relays. “I think it’s big-time,” fellow guard Monte Morris said. “If he’s going to be our starting point guard, everybody’s going to look for him to lead us.”
  • Nikola Jokic‘s numbers are down and Nuggets coach Michael Malone says his center must get more aggressive, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. He’s averaging 15.8 PPG, 4.3 PPG down from his average last season, while taking 2.6 fewer shots per game. “I don’t think he is, in terms of people thinking he’s checked out or not playing hard,” Malone said. “I don’t see that as the case at all. … I just have to make sure I keep on reminding him of how important he is to us, being aggressive and setting the tone.” Jokic is in the second year of a five-year, $147.7MM contract.

Nuggets Notes: Free Agents, Beasley, Murray

The Nuggets are about to find out whether a roster full of players who deserve regular minutes is really a good problem to have, writes Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. That’s how coach Michael Malone has been framing the situation, but keeping everyone happy on one of the league’s deepest teams could be a season-long challenge. Coming off a 54-win season, Denver traded for Jerami Grant this summer and will have to incorporate 2018 lottery pick Michael Porter Jr.

Playing time will be important with potentially half the roster heading into a contract year. Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee both have expiring deals, and Grant could become an unrestricted free agent as well if he declines a $9.3MM option for 2020/21. Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley are both eligible for rookie scale extensions, while Monte Morris and Jarred Vanderbilt will be eligible for extensions next summer. Torrey Craig is headed for restricted free agency.

“Sacrifice is the biggest word in our locker room,” Morris said. “We’re so deep that you have to be able to know sometimes that it ain’t gonna be your night. It’s knowing that you can be the so-called hero with six points on any given night.”

There’s more out of Denver:

  • The team has a little more than a week to reach an extension with Beasley before facing the prospect of matching a very expensive offer sheet next summer, Kosmider notes in a separate story. Beasley already rejected a three-year, $30MM offer and recently hired Rich Paul of Klutch Sports as his new representative. The fourth-year shooting guard has a chance to cash in if he can repeat last year’s outbreak, which saw him average 15.9 PPG while shooting 55% from the floor and 50% from 3-point range. “I don’t think you can look at an 82-game season as a fluke,” Malone said. “… He built up to that. He worked toward that and when the opportunity presented itself, he took advantage of it.”
  • It was only a matter time of time before Jamal Murray signed a maximum-salary contract, so Denver determined it made sense to do it sooner rather than later, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. With championship hopes this season, the Nuggets wanted to resolve Murray’s contract situation early so he could focus on basketball.
  • Denver isn’t likely to make a trade early in the season, Singer adds in the same piece. Barton, Hernangomez and Gary Harris all missed time with injuries last year, so that depth could be needed until opportunities emerge closer to February’s trade deadline.

Nuggets Notes: Load Management, Duval, Cancar, Backcourt

Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are all candidates for load management in order to keep them fresh for the playoffs, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic writes. While coach Michael Malone isn’t a fan of the tactic, an occasional night off for the trio could make some sense, Kosmider continues. Age is a factor for Millsap, while there isn’t a lot of depth behind Jokic and Murray at their respective positions.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Free agent point guard Trevon Duval worked out for the Nuggets last week, Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops tweets. Duval was a two-way player for the Rockets last season and became a free agent when the team didn’t give him a qualifying offer this summer. He was claimed by Houston in March after the Bucks waived him.
  • Rookie forward Vlatko Cancar isn’t the kind of player that brings people out of their seats, as he told Eric Spyropoulos of the team’s website. Cancar signed with Denver, which drafted him in the second round in 2017, after spending last season in Spain. “I’m not a spectacular, flashy player,” he said. “I’ll be the player that gets the job done and helps the team be in the best position it can be.”
  • The starting backcourt of Murray and Gary Harris is ranked among the top five in the league by Bleacher Report.

NBA Updates 2020/21 Salary Cap Projection

The NBA has informed its teams of a new salary cap projection for the 2020/21 season, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). As Charania details, the updated projection calls for a $116MM cap and a $141MM luxury tax line for the ’20/21 campaign.

Previously, the NBA projected a $117MM cap with a $142MM tax line for 2020/21, so the new figures come in slightly below those marks. However, they’d still represent a substantial jump up from the cap figures for 2019/20, which are $109.14MM (cap) and $132.627MM (tax).

According to Charania, the league’s projections for 2021/22 remain unchanged, with the NBA still estimating a $125MM cap and a $151MM tax line for that season.

The updated figures won’t have a massive impact on teams’ plans for next summer, but every dollar counts when it comes to creating cap flexibility. Players who have signed maximum-salary contract extensions that take effect during the 2020/21 season will also take note of the league’s new cap estimates, since it will have a small impact on their projected earnings.

Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, for instance, signed maximum-salary extensions that will start at 25% of the cap next season, assuming neither player earns an All-NBA spot in 2019/20.

Under the previous $117MM projection, Simmons’ and Murray’s deals were expected to be worth $169.65MM over five years. A $116MM cap would reduce the projected value of those five-year contracts to $168.2MM.

Several other figures, including the rookie scale, mid-level exceptions, minimum salaries, and cash available in trades, are also linked to the percentage the salary cap increases from year to year and would be affected by the adjusted 2020/21 projection.

Team Canada Dealing With Depleted Roster

Much has been made of the withdrawals from Team USA by prominent players as it prepares for the FIBA World Cup in China this summer. Team Canada has experienced similar issues.

Canada Basketball unveiled its training camp roster in a press release and many notable names are missing. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, Luguentz Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Mfiondu Kabengele, Naz Mitrou-Long, Trey Lyles, Dwight Powell, Marial Shayok, Nik Stauskas, and Tristan Thompson were among the invitees who opted not to participate.

Knicks lottery pick RJ Barrett and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray are on the roster but will only participate in training camp. Barrett is dealing with a mild calf strain, while Murray is nursing an ankle injury, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets.

Among the NBA players who are on the roster and intend to participate in the tournament are Kings guard Cory Joseph, Heat forward Kelly Olynyk, Magic center Khem Birch and Raptors big man Chris Boucher. Toronto’s Nick Nurse is the head coach of the team, which will play seven exhibition games before its FIBA opener against Australia on September 1.

Northwest Notes: Murray, Wolves, Jazz, Thunder

Jamal Murray‘s new five-year, maximum-salary extension with the Nuggets will start at 25% of the cap if the standout guard doesn’t make an All-NBA team in 2019/20, which would make the deal worth $169.65MM based on the league’s current cap projections.

However, as Bobby Marks of ESPN outlines (via Twitter), the two sides agreed to include Rose Rule language in Murray’s new deal, which would increase the value of the contract in the event that he has a huge ’19/20 season. If Murray earns All-NBA honors in 2020, his starting salary would be worth 26% (Third Team), 27.5% (Second Team), or 30% (First Team) of the cap.

That means Murray’s five-year extension could have a value as high as $203.58MM if he makes the All-NBA First Team or wins the MVP award next season, which is a long shot. A spot on the Second Team would result in a deal worth a total of $186.62MM, while a Third Team nod would bump the total value to $176.44MM.

As we wait to see if Murray can have a breakout year and insert himself into the All-NBA discussion, here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • With Tom Thibodeau no longer in the picture in Minnesota, the Timberwolves project to have a deeper rotation to start the 2019/20 season than they did a year ago. Still, as Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune writes, with so many young, hungry players on the roster, there should be some interesting position and rotation battles in training camp this fall.
  • Upon being introduced by the Jazz on Friday, veterans Ed Davis and Jeff Green said they chose Utah because they view the team as a team capable of competing for a championship, as Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com relays.
  • In a pair of stories, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman and Brett Dawson of The Athletic explore whether Sam Presti‘s references to “repositioning” and “replenishing” – rather than “rebuilding” – the Thunder is merely semantics, or if it provides a clue for how the process in Oklahoma City might play out.