Juan Hernangomez

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, adding that Jokic, Murray and Porter are the team’s untouchables in trade discussions.
  • 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.”

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Northwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

After identifying three Northwest trade candidates in November and three more in December, including one who was dealt shortly thereafter, we’re returning to the division today to identify another three players who could be dealt by February 6. Let’s dive in…

Robert Covington, F
Minnesota Timberwolves
$11.3MM cap hit; $12.1MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $13.0MM guaranteed salary in 2021/22

Covington is one of the more intriguing potential trade chips on the market. Barring a huge second-half push led by Karl-Anthony Towns, the 15-24 Timberwolves are likely lottery-bound, so it makes sense for the team to be sellers at the deadline. However, Covington still has two more years on his contract beyond this season – at a very reasonable price – and is the sort of player a retooling team might want to hang onto.

As a strong perimeter defender and a reliable three-point shooter, Covington should draw interest from virtually every contender. There are some teams that wouldn’t necessarily be suitable trade partners for Minnesota due to a lack of salary-matching options or valuable assets, but it’s hard to find a club that wouldn’t be an on-court fit for the 29-year-old forward.

New Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas spent most of the last two decades with the Rockets, whose front office always prioritized chasing superstars. If Rosas has brought that philosophy to Minnesota, it will be interesting to see what sort of return he’d seek for Covington. Getting a star in return is unlikely, but perhaps the Wolves could acquire draft picks and/or prospects that could be used as the foundation of a package for an impact player down the road.

Juan Hernangomez, PF
Denver Nuggets
$3.3MM cap hit; RFA in 2020

Jerami Grant‘s arrival and Michael Porter Jr.‘s return to health have made the Nuggets a deeper and more dangerous team than they were last season. However, what’s been good for the franchise hasn’t been good for Hernangomez’s playing time — he’s averaging just 11.9 minutes per game and frequently gets DNP-CDs after logging 19.4 MPG in 70 contests a year ago.

Hernangomez, who has played at least 20 minutes in a game just once since December 8, could reclaim an increased role if the Nuggets are hit by injuries at some point, but it’s not as if he’s been all that effective even when he gets to play. His 3.0 PPG, .356 FG%, and .267 3PT% are all career lows.

With potential restricted free agency on tap for Hernangomez this summer, it might be in everyone’s best interests to grant the 24-year-old Spaniard a change of scenery. Unless the Nuggets still envision the fourth-year forward as a long-term rotation player, trying to extract a second-round pick for him now – or including him in a larger package for an upgrade – would make sense.

Justin Patton, C
Oklahoma City Thunder
$1.6MM cap hit; $1.76MM non-guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $1.9MM team option in 2021/22

Patton is the sort of under-the-radar trade candidate whose status is more important for financial reasons than it is for on-court ones. After all, the third-year big man has appeared in just four games this season, playing a total of 14 minutes. He’s not a difference-maker for the Thunder and wouldn’t be more than a project for any team acquiring him.

However, with the Thunder approximately $922K over the tax line – per Early Bird Rights – the idea of moving Patton might appeal to the team. Trading away the 22-year-old at the deadline and then replacing him with a player on a prorated minimum-salary within the next couple weeks would allow Oklahoma City to get out of the tax for the 2019/20 season.

Of course, the penalty for finishing $922K over the tax wouldn’t be significant. But the Thunder have been a taxpayer for the last two years and would be subject to repeater penalties this season – and going forward – if they finish in the tax again this spring. Plus, sneaking below that threshold would mean profiting from the payments made by other taxpayers.

Unless they’re committed to Patton’s development or make another trade that gets them below the tax line, I’d be surprised if the Thunder don’t make a move involving the center.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nuggets Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Grant

After a breakout year in 2018/19, it has been an up-and-down season for Malik Beasley in 2019/20. The Nuggets‘ swingman has been in and out of the team’s rotation — for instance, he got a DNP-CD in last Monday’s win before playing 26 minutes in a win on Wednesday. While Beasley would like to have a more regular role, he’s trying to make the most of the opportunities he gets, as Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post details.

“I wish it (playing time) was consistent, that’s just me as a player,” Beasley said after last Wednesday’s game. “But I’m happy to contribute to the team and get a win, that’s the most important thing that comes out of every day.”

After acquiring Jerami Grant and getting a healthy Michael Porter Jr. back for this season, the Nuggets have made an already-deep rotation even deeper, resulting in a decline in minutes for some players. Head coach Michael Malone said he understands Beasley’s frustration and admitted that the fourth-year swingman isn’t wrong to believe he should have a bigger role.

“Malik Beasley is sitting there saying, ‘I should be playing more,'” Malone said. “You know what? He’s right. I can’t argue that.”

Beasley, who will be a restricted free agent at season’s end, has been the subject of some trade speculation this season, since he still has long-term value and could be included in a package if Denver makes a play for another impact player. For now, he’ll make the most of the minutes he gets with the Nuggets.

Here’s more out of Denver:

Charania’s Latest: Holiday, Zion, Nuggets, Knicks

Earlier today, we passed along Shams Charania’s report of Dewayne Dedmon wanting out of Sacramento. The big man hasn’t played in eight of the last 10 games for the Kings and both sides believe that the situation is unsalvagable.

Charania also passed along other tidbits from around the league in his latest piece on The Athletic. Here are the highlights:

  • One of Jrue Holiday‘s priorities is being in a winning situation, a source tells Charania, and that’s not something the Pelicans are currently providing him. Rival teams believe that Holiday is the type of piece who would help lift a team to a new level. The Nuggets and Heat are believed to be possible destinations should David Griffin trade the point guard, Charania notes.
  • Zion Williamson is expected to begin contract drills and practices within the next week or two and the Pelicans want the No. 1 overall pick to continue to get leaner prior to his return. The franchise has focused on refining his eating habits as well. Charania adds the Pelicans “fully anticipate” Williamson playing this season.
  • The Nuggets are open to dealing Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley, though both players have high asking prices. Some rival executives expect the team to move both Hernangomez and Beasley, as each restricted free agent is expected to garner a lucrative deal in free agency.
  • The Heat have not closed the door on Dion Waiters playing for the team again. Pat Riley recently met with Waiters and James Johnson, making it clear to each that Miami would like to reintegrate both players into team activities.
  • Rival teams believe Dennis Smith Jr. would prefer a trade from the Knicks and several clubs have inquired about the point guard.
  • We’ve seen several G-League call ups this season and James Palmer Jr., who is playing for the Agua Caliente Clippers, could be next, Charania writes.

Trade Rumors: Nuggets, Thunder, Turner, More

Within his early breakdown of the 2019/20 trade market, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today notes that the Nuggets may make young role players like Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez available, especially if they can include them in a package that nets them an impact player.

Zillgitt also wonders if Thunder point guard Chris Paul would consider waiving his 2021/22 player option, since eliminating that final year from his contract would make him a far more appealing trade chip to teams looking to retain long-term flexibility. Of course, waiving that option would cost Paul a guaranteed $44MM salary for ’21/22, and there’s no guarantee he’d recoup more than a fraction of that amount on a new deal. So that scenario looks like a bit of a long shot for now.

Here are a few more stories focusing on the NBA’s in-season trade market:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report spoke to a handful of current and former NBA executives to evaluate teams’ needs and players’ value in advance of the February trade deadline. One former general manager thinks it may take more time for teams to become sellers, since sub-.500 teams hold playoff spots in each conference. “I don’t think any of these teams [outside of the top eight] are scared,” the former GM said. “It’s going to take longer for teams to lose confidence that they have a chance to fight for eighth. … We’ll see more separation [in the standings] closer to February.”
  • According to Pincus, several executives believe the Pacers will eventually seriously consider trading Myles Turner, since he’s not considered a great long-term fit alongside Domantas Sabonis. Turner was viewed as the more valuable asset last season, but Sabonis has been better so far this year.
  • Sean Deveney of Heavy.com identifies several newly trade-eligible players who are worth keeping an eye on as February’s deadline nears, including Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell, Bulls forward Thaddeus Young, and several Knicks veterans. We singled out many of the same trade candidates on Monday in our own look at players whose trade restrictions lifted on December 15.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic explores five questions that could shape this season’s trade deadline, such as just how serious the Nuggets and Mavericks are about their short-term chances to contend.

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.

Northwest Notes: Hernangomez, Nurkic, Patterson, SGA

Fourth-year Nuggets power forward Juan Hernangomez, a restricted free agent in 2020, made the most of a rare appearance in last Thursday’s 101-93 victory against the Nets. Though his counting stats (two points and eight boards in 19 minutes) don’t jump off the page, coach Mike Malone lauded Hernangomez’s effort in the team’s comeback win, reports Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.

I thought Juancho was the difference-maker tonight,” Malone said. “He had not played (much) in the first 10 games. I wanted to throw him out there knowing that he’d provide a spark and energy.” Hernangomez subsequently rewarded his coach’s faith with a 15-point, three-rebound, 29-minute night during a 131-114 Nuggets win over Memphis on Sunday.

There’s more out of the Northwest:

  • By missing his 13th game of the 2019/20 season Saturday, injured Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will officially miss out on a $1.25MM games-played bonus. This will result in his future cap hits for Portland being depreciated to $12.9MM this year and $12MM in 2020/21, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN. Nurkic had to play in 70 games and Portland needed to win 50 games for the bonus to materialize.
  • Ahead of tonight’s ongoing tilt against the Thunder, Clippers power forward Patrick Patterson reminisced about his two injury-plagued years logged in Oklahoma City. In speaking with The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto, Patterson had a laundry list of causes for the Thunder’s underwhelming 2018/19 season. “I don’t think it was just one thing,” Patterson reflected. “Coaching staff, not everyone on the same page from the heads up top to the players on the bottom. Effort on the players’ part. Focus, playing together, playing good solid defense with communication. We missed a lot of shots.” Patterson’s candor on the team is refreshing to see. He continued, “It’s pretty much everyone that was within the organization’s fault.”
  • On the other side of the trade that landed Patterson in Los Angeles, former Clippers teammates and coaches of Clipper-turned-Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gave SGA rave reviews before tonight’s tipoff. The Oklahoman’s Maddie Lee reports that LA coach Doc Rivers had this to say about his former point guard: “He’s the greatest kid… I don’t know if I’ve had a more favorite young player, like, he’s the best.” Atlanta guard Tyrone Wallace also raved about his former running mate. “Everybody loved Shai,” Wallace said. “It was one of those things, I think a lot of fans were kind of upset (that he was traded).”

Northwest Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Teague, Hall

Prior to Monday’s rookie scale contract extension deadline, the Nuggets aggressively pursued deals for Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, while all sides made an effort in those discussions, neither Beasley nor Hernangomez signed a new contract on Monday.

As we noted this afternoon in our recap of this year’s rookie scale extension activity, Beasley and Hernangomez are two of the extension-eligible players who are now on track for restricted free agency next summer. It will be particularly interesting to see how things play out for Beasley, who reportedly turned down a three-year, $30MM offer from the Nuggets earlier in the offseason. If he repeats or improves upon last year’s numbers, he could be one of the best young players available on the 2020 market.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague, who was bothered by a nagging left ankle injury for much of last season, underwent a procedure in April to address that injury. Asked whether he feels fully healthy heading into the season, Teague offered the following assessment, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune: “I feel OK. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100 percent, but I feel OK.”
  • Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis isn’t going anywhere for the time being after signing a new four-year extension, but Darren Wolfson of SKOR North notes (via Twitter) that the Timberwolves talked to Indiana about Sabonis in June. It’s unclear if the Wolves attempted to re-engage last week when the Pacers briefly explored the market for Sabonis.
  • After spending his first professional season as a “draft-and-stash” prospect, 2018 second-rounder Devon Hall may have an opportunity to contribute to the Thunder in 2019/20. Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman takes a closer look at what’s on tap this season for Hall, one of the club’s two-way players.

Nuggets, Malik Beasley Engaged In Extension Talks

The Nuggets are engaged in talks with Malik Beasley and his representatives – including agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports – about a potential contract extension, a league source tells Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

As a former first-round pick entering the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, Beasley is eligible to sign an extension up until October 21, the day before the regular season begins. If he and the Nuggets don’t work something out by then, he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency during the summer of 2020.

Bobby Marks of ESPN reported last week that Beasley turned down a three-year, $30MM extension offer from the Nuggets, and a source confirms to Singer than the team did make an offer in that range. However, according to ESPN’s report, Beasley declined that offer before changing agents, so it’s not clear where negotiations stand with Paul and Klutch Sports.

After playing limited minutes in his first two NBA seasons, Beasley emerged as one of the Nuggets’ most effective bench players in 2018/19, averaging 11.3 PPG on .474/.402/.848 shooting in 81 games (23.2 MPG). He’s also still just 22 years old and could continue to improve — Singer speculates that a strong 2019/20 could increase Beasley’s value to $14-16MM per year.

Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Michael Porter all missed significant time last season, so if they’re all healthy to start the ’19/20 season, it will be interesting to see how Beasley’s role is affected. The Nuggets have a deep, talented rotation when everyone is healthy, but the former Florida State standout showed last season that he deserves a regular role.

In addition to Beasley, Juan Hernangomez is another extension-eligible player who is in the Nuggets’ long-term plans, Singer notes.

Nuggets Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Bol, Cancar

Possible extensions for Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez are the last pieces of business the Nuggets may address before the opening of training camp, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Denver’s front office acted quickly to give Jamal Murray a max extension, but the others aren’t clear-cut decisions, and Singer examines the positives and negatives of reaching deals with both players before the October 21 deadline.

Beasley emerged as a valuable bench player last season after injuries to Gary Harris and Will Barton. He averaged 15.9 PPG and shot 55% from the field as a starter, including 50% on 3-pointers. He enters this season as Harris’ primary backup, but still needs to improve on defense before coach Michael Malone will be comfortable playing him late in games. Singer speculates that based on last year’s performance, Beasley may want to skip an extension and try his luck as a restricted free agent next summer.

Hernangomez is coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him fall out of the rotation by the second half of the season. He had core surgery after the season ended and is coming off a strong performance with Spain’s gold medal-winning World Cup team. Hernangomez doesn’t have an established role and figures to compete for playing time with Barton, Torrey Craig, Michael Porter Jr. and Jerami Grant.

There’s more today from Denver:

  • It may be time for the Nuggets to move some of their depth in exchange for an established star, suggests Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. If the Wizards decide to part with Bradley Beal, for example, Kosmider believes Denver could put together a competitive offer involving Harris, Porter and a future first-rounder or possibly Hernangomez, Monte Morris, Beasley and a future pick. Other possible targets could include Kevin Love, Jeff Teague or one of the Raptors‘ veterans.
  • Bol Bol may spend his entire rookie season in the G League, Kosmider states in a mailbag column. Bol was a highly touted college prospect before injuries cut his season short, and the Nuggets view him as a project that will take time to develop, Kosmider adds, which is why he was signed to a two-way contract. Bol’s progress may be complicated because Denver doesn’t have a direct G League affiliate, which means much of the work will be done by another organization.
  • Vlatko Cancar may be in the same position, but his standard contract gives him a better chance to win a role in training camp, Kosmider notes in the same piece.