Juan Hernangomez

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.

And-Ones: Howard, Summer League, Spain, BIG3

Having been sent from Washington to Memphis in a trade for C.J. Miles, veteran center Dwight Howard is a member of the Grizzlies for now. However, the club is expected to waive or trade him at some point. After he was limited to just nine games in 2018/19 for health reasons, it’s not clear what the next step will be for Howard, but the eight-time All-Star tells Shams Charania of The Athletic that he has adjusted his mindset and is prepared to do whatever it takes to help his next team win.

“I don’t have an ego — it’s dead,” Howard said. “It had to die for me to be who I am. Sometimes when you want to become who you want to be, you have to die within yourself. Once you learn that you have to give up yourself for the team, that’s when things flourish.”

According to Charania, several NBA teams have said that they’re intrigued by Howard, who says he has been fully cleared after last year’s injury issues. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year claims he has lost 25 pounds since the end of the season, and one executive who saw him recently said he appears to be in his best shape in years, per Charania.

It remains to be seen whether Howard will get an opportunity to choose his next team on the free agent market, but if he does, he has one clear priority, he tells Charania: “Winning. Winning. Winning. I want to win. Nothing else. Just win.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link), there has been talk in Las Vegas about the possibility of moving back the start of Summer League in future years. Postponing the start date until after the end of the July moratorium would help address the problem of having traded 2019 draftees tied up in deals that can’t be made official until after Summer League is underway.
  • Spain announced its preliminary roster for the 2019 FIBA World Cup this week, as Sportando relays, and the group includes a number of familiar names. The 16-man list, which will be cut down to 12 for the competition, features Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Willy Hernangomez, Juan Hernangomez, and former NBA players like Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver.
  • The BIG3 announced on Wednesday that Baron Davis, Bonzi Wells, Lamar Odom, and Jermaine O’Neal are being “deactivated” for the 2019 season. The league cited the need to “maximize competition, protect the health of players, and to raise the level of the professionalism of the BIG3.”

Juan Hernangomez Undergoes Surgery For Core Muscle Injury

Nuggets power forward Juan Hernangomez has undergone successful surgery to repair a core muscle injury, the team announced today in a press release. The procedure was performed on Thursday morning in Philadelphia.

The Nuggets didn’t announce a recovery timetable for Hernangomez, but T.J. McBride of Mile High Sports points out (via Twitter) that the 23-year-old told reporters at season’s end that he expects to head back to Spain after two or three weeks in Denver. So it sounds as if he’ll complete his rehab in his home country before potentially suiting up for Spain in the World Cup in September.

Hernangomez was a regular part of Denver’s rotation in 2018/19, averaging 5.8 PPG and 3.8 RPG with a .439/.365/.767 shooting line in 70 games (19.4 MPG).

Although his overall numbers were solid, Hernangomez was far more effective in the first half of the season. He recorded 10.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG on .485/.431/.795 shooting through December 31, then was “clearly hampered” by his injury down the stretch, tweets Nick Kosmider of The Athletic.

Hernangomez will earn about $3.32MM in the final year of his rookie contract in 2019/20. He’ll be eligible for restricted free agency a year from now if he doesn’t agree to an extension with the Nuggets during the 2019 offseason.

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.”