Juan Hernangomez

Nuggets Exercise Options On Murray, Hernangomez, Beasley

The Nuggets have officially exercised their 2019/20 team options on Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangomez, and Malik Beasley, the team confirmed today (via Twitter). Michael Scotto of The Athletic had reported on Monday that Beasley’s option would be picked up, and the other two were viewed as locks.

The trio of fourth-year options will add about $10.5MM in guaranteed money to the Nuggets’ cap for next season — $4,444,746 for Murray, $3,321,030 for Hernangomez, and $2,731,714 for Beasley. All three players will now be extension-eligible as of July 1, 2019, and would reach restricted free agency in the summer of 2020 if they don’t sign new deals with Denver before then.

Murray, the seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft, is one of the Nuggets’ core pieces. So far this season, he’s averaging 16.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 2.8 APG in six games (31.2 MPG). Hernangomez and Beasley have more modest roles in Denver’s rotation, but have been seeing fairly regular playing time in 2018/19. They’re each averaging just over 15 minutes per contest.

The Nuggets’ announcement doesn’t mention Tyler Lydon, whose third-year option for 2019/20 must also be picked up by tomorrow to avoid making him an unrestricted free agency next July. Lydon has been unable to carve out a role in Denver’s crowded power forward picture, appearing in just three games since being selected 24th overall in the 2017 draft, so the club seems likely to pass on his option.

We’re tracking all of this year’s rookie scale option decisions right here.

Nuggets’ Will Barton To Miss At Least Six Weeks

OCTOBER 23: Barton has undergone successful surgery to repair core and hip muscle injuries, according to the Nuggets, who noted in a press release that the veteran swingman will be re-evaluated in six weeks.

OCTOBER 22: Nuggets swingman Will Barton will have surgery for an adductor muscle injury on Tuesday and is expected to miss 5-6 weeks, ESPN’s Marc J. Spears tweets. The injury is in the right hip area.

Barton was off to a solid beginning as the team’s starting small forward. He averaged 16.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 3.0 APG during the team’s first two games before he felt something pop during the second half against Phoenix on Saturday. He missed Denver’s victory over Golden State on Sunday.

Barton, 27, averaged career highs in points (15.7) and assists (4.1) last season.

It’s unlikely Denver will pursue trade options unless the timetable for Barton’s injury changes. With the 6’6” Barton on the shelf, Torrey CraigJuan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley will see an uptick in minutes.

The undrafted Craig, 27, broke into the league last season and started on Sunday. Hernangomez, a 2016 first-rounder, is a career 37.1% 3-point shooter. Beasley, another 2016 first-round pick, appeared in 62 games in reserve for Denver last season.

Northwest Notes: Deng, Abrines, Hernangomez

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau defended the signing of forward Luol Deng, saying the veteran forward can help his team in a number of ways, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com reports. “He’s only 33,” the Wolves coach said. “He takes great care of himself. He knows how to prepare for the season. For us, the fact that he can play [multiple spots] and he’s a veteran, it’s a long season, you like to have players like that. And he’s familiar with what we want to do.” Deng signed a one-year, $2.4MM contract with the Timberwolves after reaching a buyout agreement with the Lakers and clearing waivers. Thibodeau has taken criticism for being too partial to ex-Bulls players but he shrugs it off, as told Aschburner. “Whether a guy has played for me before or in a system where (GM) Scott (Layden) had been before or maybe where one of our assistants had been, if you feel like you know a player well and he fits into your system, then why not do it?,” Thibodeau said. “To me, I don’t really care what other people think. I care about what we think.”

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Deng gave up $7.5MM over the next two seasons in his buyout with Lakers, including $3.6MM that was allocated to the upcoming season, salary cap expert Albert Nahmad tweets. He’ll recoup two-thirds of the latter giveback with his Wolves contract, meaning he’ll receive a total of $16.7MM for the season, Nahmad adds.
  • Alex Abrines is just entering his prime at 25 years old and the Thunder swingman could be in line for an expanded role, Nick Gallo of the team’s website writes. Abrines averaged 15.1 MPG in 75 regular-season appearances last season could see some crunch-time minutes this season, Gallo adds. “You can focus on certain points of your game. (I’ll) especially keep improving on defense and then just develop my offensive game,” Abrines said. “Not just being a shooter, trying to put the ball on the floor, playing some big roles and being able to create for my teammates.”
  • 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.

And-Ones: Long, LiAngelo Ball, Spain

Ex-Sixers forward Shawn Long has signed a contract with New Zealand Breakers, according to a Sportando report. Long played 18 games with Philadelphia in 2016/2017, averaging 8.2 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 13 MPG. He toiled in the G League last season with the Delaware 87ers, averaging 14.6 PPG and 7.7 RPG in 33 games following a seven-game stint in China. The Timberwolves took a look at Long during a free agent mini-camp in June.

We have more from around the pro basketball world:

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Hernangomez, Mudiay, Nurkic

The Nuggets will face a crucial decision with third-year center Nikola Jokic after this season, and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports examines the possibilities. Denver has a team option to keep Jokic for the minimum salary of a little more than $1.6MM next season, but that would make him an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019. The Nuggets could choose to decline that option, making him a restricted free agent this summer with Denver being able to match any offers. Feldman estimates Jokic could get about $109MM [about $27MM annually] over four years in restricted free agency or $146MM over five years [about $29MM annually] in an offer from the Nuggets.

There are benefits to keeping Jokic on a minimum salary for another year with more than $110MM already committed for 12 players next season. Giving Jokic a max deal for 2018/19 could put the team so far into the luxury tax that it couldn’t escape by trading Kenneth Faried or Mason Plumlee. Opt-out decisions by Wilson Chandler [more than $12.8MM for next season] or Darrell Arthur [nearly $7.5MM] could help ease the tax burden, but neither is certain to do that.

There’s more today out of Denver:

  • After being slowed by illness for much of the season,  Juan Hernangomez is healthy and ready to contribute, relays Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. The second-year center contracted mononucleosis in October and was available for just two of the season’s first 12 games. He was sidelined by the flu in late December and has appeared in only 18 games so far. “I said to Coach [Michael Malone], ‘I’m ready if you need me,’” Hernangomez said. “I don’t say ‘I need to play.’ Of course I want to play. But I don’t [put] pressure on him, because he’s the coach and he makes the decisions. I just tell him I’m ready, in any case, and I’m ready to bring my energy.”
  • The Nuggets need to admit Emmanuel Mudiay was a failed draft pick and find a veteran to help them reach the playoffs, contends Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. The seventh pick in the 2015 draft, Mudiay has struggled with his shot since coming to Denver. Kizsla suggests Sacramento’s George Hill as an option, although the Kings would have to be persuaded to take Faried’s contract in return, or possibly Orlando’s D.J. Augustin as a lower-cost option.
  • Jusuf Nurkic made his first trip back to Denver this week since being traded to Portland last year and wasn’t eager to reminisce, Mizell writes in a separate story. Nurkic said he has “no relationship” with Malone. “Everybody knows why we didn’t work [in Denver],” Nurkic said. “To be honest, I’m happy I’m here. The story’s over. I have a new story, and I’m really excited where I am.”

Northwest Notes: Murray, Aminu, Hernangomez

The Nuggets have an opportunity to develop Jamal Murray into a significant part of their franchise for years to come, they just need to make sure that they handle things better than Denver’s NFL counterpart has handled their quarterback situation, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post writes.

Those unfamiliar with the Broncos depth chart need only know that the club has attempted to eke into the postseason with a short-term quarterback rather than organically developing their younger, higher-ceiling, long-term quarterback. Kiszla fears that a hasty acquisition of Eric Bledsoe could put the Nuggets in a similarly short-sighted position.

While nobody is denying that Bledsoe is a solid NBA player, Kiszla writes that the Nuggets would be better off giving Murray the opportunity to learn to be a solid starter. The club should push his learning curve to find out just what he’s capable of.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

Juan Hernangomez Will Miss ‘A Couple Of Weeks’

Nuggets forward Juan Hernangomez could be out “a couple of weeks” with mononucleosis, according to Christopher Dempsey of NBA.com.

The second-year player out of Spain had a productive rookie season, averaging 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in 62 games. However, he has managed just seven minutes in two games this year.

“We were talking as coaches and as a staff that Juancho hadn’t looked like Juancho from last year,” said coach Mike Malone. “The first reaction was: Well, he had a very busy summer. He played summer league with us, then he goes right back to Spain and plays a very long and demanding schedule with the national team. But we were waiting for Juancho to come back – the activity, the energy, and he just wasn’t looking like himself.”

The team did blood work when Hernangomez contracted a cold, and the results showed mononucleosis. He will be held out to give him a chance to recover and to keep the contagious disease away from the rest of the team.

“Hopefully when he is healthy, we’ll see that Juancho that we all came to love last year, who was just boundless energy,” Malone added. “We haven’t seen that guy yet because of this disease and how hard he worked the whole summer.”

Injury Notes: Fultz, Dunn, Blazers, J. Hernangomez

While we at Hoops Rumors tend to avoid extensively covering day-to-day injuries and other minor ailments, we do make an effort to pass along word of slightly longer-term injuries that could have an impact on a team’s rotation or roster.

Markelle Fultz‘ shoulder issue doesn’t fit that bill yet, but it sounds like it might at some point. As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports, agent Raymond Brothers confirmed that Fultz has had fluid drained from his right shoulder and plans to visit a specialist soon.

“He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball,” Brothers said of his client. “He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent.”

Considering how cautious the Sixers have been in recent years with injuries, it’s somewhat surprising that Fultz is playing at all for the team to start the season. However, according to Wojnarowski, no decision has been made yet for this year’s first overall pick to miss games. The 76ers are weighing their options, says Sarah Todd of Philly.com.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Kris Dunn, who has yet to make his debut for the Bulls, will come off the bench when he returns to the court, head coach Fred Hoiberg said today (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune). Dunn is expected to play his first game for Chicago on either Thursday or Saturday.
  • Entering a contract year, Noah Vonleh is targeting a November 1 return from shoulder surgery, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. That would give the Trail Blazers a fully healthy NBA roster, though two-way player C.J. Wilcox will be sidelined for a while — the team announced in a press release that Wilcox is expected to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing a successful arthroscopy on his right knee.
  • Nuggets forward Juan Hernangomez has been diagnosed with mononucleosis, the team confirmed on Tuesday in a press release. There’s no specific timeline for Hernangomez’ return yet, but according to the Nuggets, he didn’t travel with the club on its current four-game road trip.
  • Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, frustrated by an ankle injury, is hoping to rejoin the club on its current six-game road trip, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. In the meantime, Lucas Nogueira, who is in a contract year, will enjoy an increased role, Smith notes in a separate article.

Nuggets Exercise 2018/19 Options On Five Players

The Nuggets entered the offseason with decisions to make on five team options for the 2018/19 season, and the team has elected to pick up all five of those options, according to RealGM’s log of official NBA transactions. Here are the details on the rookie-scale team options exercised this week by Denver:

The moves ensure that Mudiay, Murray, Lyles, Hernangomez, and Beasley are now locked up to guaranteed contracts through at least 2019. The numbers listed above reflect the cap hits on Denver’s books, and not necessarily the players’ exact salaries, since players on rookie contracts received pay bumps as a result of the new CBA.

Mudiay and Lyles will be eligible for rookie scale extensions during next year’s offseason, and then will be on track for restricted free agency in 2019 if the Nuggets don’t extend them in 2018. Murray, Hernangomez, and Beasley, meanwhile, will have fourth-year options for 2019/20 for Denver to decide on during next year’s offseason. If those options are picked up, the trio will be extension-eligible in 2019 and RFA-eligible in 2020.

With those five 2018/19 options exercised, the Nuggets now have approximately $73.4MM in guaranteed salaries on their cap for the ’18/19 season, per Basketball Insiders. That number isn’t exorbitant, but it could skyrocket before next July — it doesn’t include potential player options for Wilson Chandler ($12.8MM) or Darrell Arthur ($7.5MM) or possible extensions for Gary Harris or Will Barton.

That total for 2018/19 also doesn’t include Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets have an inexpensive team option on Jokic for next season, but may opt to turn it down and negotiate with him as a restricted free agent, rather than exercising it and having him reach unrestricted free agency a year later.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Cole, Nuggets

Acquired from the Nuggets in the days leading up to the trade deadline, Jusuf Nurkic is a valuable component already breathing new life into the Trail Blazers, writes Joe Freeman of the Oregonian. In five games with his new club, Nurkic has averaged 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 29.8 minutes per game.

I think his energy is definitely good for our team,” Damian Lillard told Freeman of the big man, later adding that the fiery 22-year-old adds a valuable emotional boost. “I guess you would call him a tough guy — every play he’s saying something.”

This isn’t the first time Nurkic has shown impressive potential, he flashed signs of promise during his rookie campaign in 2014/15. Still, a 2015/16 injury coupled with the emergence of Nikola Jokic this year and last inhibited the Bosnian’s development in Denver.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • So long as the Trail Blazers are within reach of the playoffs, Damian Lillard will be competing at the highest level, writes Jason Quick of CSN Northwest. “We have an opportunity to make the playoffs and I’m going to play until that opportunity is gone, and then I’m still going to play. We have a whole summer until the next season, so I’m going to play.” The veteran understood the appeal of tanking during his rookie campaign when the postseason was never an option but has no desire to rely on the draft for immediate help.
  • The recent signing of Norris Cole gives the Thunder a reliable veteran to back up Russell Westbrook at the point, writes Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman. “[We] just need him to run our team when he’s in there, make good decisions, defend,” says head coach Billy Donovan, “All the things he’s done for most of his career.
  • The Timberwolves have experimented with both Tyus Jones and Kris Dunn in the lineup at the same time, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune. The pair of point guards has been deployed of late when starter Ricky Rubio takes a seat. “I like Tyus and Kris together; that’s a big plus,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They have good chemistry together. It gives you a second pick-and-roll player.”
  • Rookies have stepped up and made an impact for the Nuggets this season, writes Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. He speaks, of course, about the emergence of Jamal Murray and Juan Hernangomez as valuable contributors even as Denver competes for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.