Monte Morris

Nuggets Notes: Frontcourt, Murray, Daniels, Morris

A pair of trades at the deadline have left the Nuggets with a logjam in the frontcourt and not enough playing time to go around, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The team added Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee to a talented group that already had Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. seeing heavy minutes.

“That’s my biggest challenge right now,” coach Michael Malone said. “You have Paul Millsap, who’s been a starter here for four years. You have JaVale McGee, who we traded for at the trade deadline, and you have JaMychal Green, who we pursued heavily in free agency. All those guys bring value to our team, but it is truly impossible to play all three.”

Malone indicated he plans to rest Millsap on the second night of back-to-backs, which applies to five of the 20 games the Nuggets have remaining. Singer believes the odd man out could be Green, who signed with the team in November and has a $7.56MM player option for next season.

“They’ve all been very professional, I have to say that,” Malone said. “It’s not easy. I don’t think any of them love the situation, but what trumps everything is this. We’re trying to win a championship. We need all 15 guys in that locker room. It’s about sacrificing and investing in each other if that is truly our goal. The guys have been tremendous with their professionalism. As long I communicate with them, I think they’ll continue to be that way.”

There’s more from Denver:

  • Jamal Murray has missed the past three games with a sore right knee, but Malone isn’t worried that it will be a long-term issue, Singer tweets. Murray is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with the Celtics.
  • The Nuggets are looking at a pair of NBA veterans to fill the roster spot they opened this week by waiving Gary Clark. Shooting guard Troy Daniels, who signed with Denver last March, is a name that Singer says he has heard floated repeatedly (Twitter link). Daniels, 29, appeared in six games for the Nuggets last season, with five coming at the restart in Orlando. He also saw limited action in six playoff games. Denver is also considering 35-year-old shooting specialist Gerald Green, Singer adds (via Twitter). Green was in training camp with the Rockets in December, but was waived before the season began. He missed all of last season with a broken foot.
  • After a brief stay in the starting lineup, Monte Morris asked Malone if he could return to a reserve role, tweets Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports. Morris has started 11 of the 40 games he has played this season, but is more comfortable coming off the bench.

And-Ones: MVP Race, Trade Assets, Payton II, Morris

Injuries expected to sideline LeBron James and Joel Embiid for multiple weeks have shaken up the chase for the Most Valuable Player award. Nikola Jokic is now the frontrunner to win the wide-open race for the award, according to Chris Sheridan of Basketball News. Betting sites FanDuel, Draft Kings, BetMGM and have made the Nuggets’ All-Star big man the favorite.

We have more tidbits from around the basketball world:

  • The Thunder possess a boatload of first-round picks, some veterans with trade appeal and plenty of trade exceptions. That’s why Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report ranks Oklahoma City No. 1 in terms of trade assets. Pincus lists each team by the value of its trade assets.
  • Raptors 905 guard Gary Payton II has been named the G League Defensive Player of the Year, according to a G League press release. The league’s head coaches and GMs voted on the award. Payton II led the league in steals per game (2.54), including nine games with two or more steals.
  • Nuggets guard Monte Morris has committed to the Nigeria national team for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweets. Mike Brown will coach the team, which also includes NBA players Al-Farouq Aminu, Josh Okogie, Chimezie Metu and Ekpe Udoh.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Morris, Rosas, Clarkson

Year-to-year continuity appears to be rewarding the Jazz early on in the 2020/21 season, according to Ariel Pacheco of Basketball Insiders.

Led by All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have benefited from an improved defense and long-range marksmanship. The club ranks in the top ten in both offensive and defensive rating, Pacheco notes. Mitchell, too, appears to have developed his ball-handling abilities.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Newly-extended Nuggets guard Monte Morris has proven himself to be a steal for Denver thus far, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Morris has helped stabilize the team’s bench, posting a career high in scoring (11.5 PPG), and shooting an excellent 51.7% from the floor overall. “I’m going out there focused, playing for other guys, with a clear head,” Morris said. “The contract definitely got me at peace.”
  • Timberwolves team president Gersson Rosas expressed his frustration at the general state of the team, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This was another growing and developing year,” Rosas told Hine. “But at the same time, we’re not up to our capabilities and that’s to be competitive. … It starts with me and my staff. It starts with coach [Ryan Saunders] and his staff, and it starts with the players.” The Wolves are 4-12 this season, the worst record in the West.
  • After signing a four-year deal in the offseason with Utah, Jazz reserve guard Jordan Clarkson is making an early case for the Sixth Man of the Year award honors with his inspired play of late, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “Definitely it was one of my goals going into this year, to go get that and play that role,” Clarkson says.

Northwest Notes: Rubio, Morris, Simons, Mitchell

Ricky Rubio believes the Timberwolves are playing selfishly, which has led to 11 losses in their last 12 games, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Rubio, who returned to action Friday after clearing COVID-19 protocols, says the team needs to air out its issues.

“It would be good to have a long meeting, but I don’t think we can have more than a 10-minute meeting,” the Timberwolves guard said. “But we need like a three-hour meeting. After talking, we got to execute the words that we have.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Monte Morris is grateful the Nuggets extended his contract during the offseason, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. “The contract got me at peace,” he said. Morris, who signed a three-year, $27MM extension early last month, is averaging a career-high 11.7 PPG and 3.2 APG in 26.3 MPG through Denver’s first 15 games.
  • It’s time for third-year guard Anfernee Simons to assert himself with CJ McCollum sidelined by a foot injury, Jason Quick of The Athletic opines. Simons needs to show he can consistently make 3-pointers, run the team and defend without fouling, Quick says. In Simons’ last outing, he scored six points in 15 minutes on Monday. The Trail Blazers picked up their 2021/22 option on Simons last month.
  • While Donovan Mitchell has received some criticism for his lack of impact on the defensive end, he’s living up to his bill as the Jazz‘s franchise player, Tony Jones of The Athletic argues. There’s little doubt that Mitchell is capable of being the No. 1 offensive option on a title team, Jones asserts. Mitchell, who signed a max extension in November, is averaging career highs in points (24.3), assists (4.9) and 3-point shooting (40.8%).

Northwest Notes: Morris, Collins, Bogdanovic, Maledon

Nuggets reserve point guard Monte Morris agreed to a new, three-year extension with Denver this offseason. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets the full details of the agreement, which is fully guaranteed with no player or team options. It will pay Morris $8.4MM for the 2021/22 season, $9.1MM in 2022/23, and $9.8MM in 2023/24.

The No. 51 pick by the Nuggets out of Iowa State in the 2017 draft, Morris has carved out a core rotation role with the club during the last two seasons. In 2019/20, he averaged 9.0 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.9 RPG and 0.8 SPG. He sported a slash line of .459/.378/.843.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • After undergoing left ankle surgery in September, Trail Blazers power forward Zach Collins went through a light, half-speed workout this week, per Casey Holdahl of (Twitter link). Holdahl suggests that Portland hopes to have Collins back on the court in mid-to-late January.
  • Jazz starting small forward Bojan Bogdanović saw his first in-game action since May wrist surgery on Saturday in a preseason contest against the Suns. Bogdanovic exhibited the many ways he can contribute to the team’s offensive output, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News“It’s kind of kind of strange, this is my first time in my life that I didn’t play for this long,” Bogdanovic remarked after the game.
  • Thunder rookie guard Theo Maledon had a sparkling preseason debut for Oklahoma City, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 6’5″ guard, drafted with the No. 34 pick this year, scored 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and pulled down five rebounds in a 121-108 victory over the Spurs.

Nuggets Sign Monte Morris To Three-Year Extension

DECEMBER 9: Morris has officially signed his extension, the Nuggets announced today in a press release.

DECEMBER 7: The Nuggets have agreed to a three-year, $27MM extension with guard Monte Morris, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The deal will be fully guaranteed and includes incentives that could bump the value to $9.4MM annually, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets.

Morris would have been an unrestricted free agent next offseason without an extension. That’s because Morris was credited with a year of service under CBA rules when he signed a two-way contract in 2017, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (Twitter links).

It’ll be a big raise for Morris, who is due to make $1,723,707 in the upcoming season.

Morris appeared in three games during the 2017/18 season and has become a valuable member of the rotation the past two seasons. He appeared in all 82 regular-season games during the 2018/19 season and 73, including 12 starts, last season. He has averaged 9.6 PPG and 3.5 APG in 23.0 MPG in those 158 appearances.

He averaged 9.1 PPG and 2.7 APG during 19 postseason games in Orlando during Denver’s run to the Western Conference Finals.

Denver signed Euro star Facundo Campazzo last month as another option behind starting point man Jamal Murray but the extension displays the Nuggets’ commitment to Morris.

Morris’ extension will make him ineligible to be traded before the 2021 trade deadline, as Marks explains (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Conley, Bogdanovic, Horford, Blazers, Morris

Jazz point guard Mike Conley cleared all COVID-19 protocols and practiced in full on Tuesday, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. Utah has one unnamed player who has yet to be cleared. Conley had close contact with a family member who tested positive, which forced him to the sidelines. He had to produce seven consecutive negative tests before he could exit quarantine.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz swingman Bojan Bogdanovic says he’ll be ready to play at the start of the season, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Bogdanovic, who underwent wrist surgery in May and missed the restart, has been practicing in full this week.
  • Al Horford and rookie Theo Maledon will join the Thunder once they complete coronavirus protocols, Brandon Rahbar of the Daily Thunder tweets. Horford and Maledon were officially acquired from the Sixers on Monday. “Theo, for a young player, he has a lot of experience and has a certain maturity about him,” new head coach Mark Daigneault said. “Al, we’re very fortunate that he’s here and to have a player of his caliber.”
  • Among the three members of the Trail Blazers organization to test positive for the virus was one player, coach Terry Stotts told Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link). Zach Collins (ankle) and Jusuf Nurkic, who just arrived Sunday, also missed the first practice on Tuesday.
  • The Nuggets are confident backup point guard Monte Morris and EuroLeague import Facundo Campazzo will be able to play together in the second unit, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic writes. Rookie draft pick RJ Hampton will need more seasoning before he’s ready for big minutes, Andrews said. Denver and Morris, one of the team’s top reserves the past two seasons, agreed on a three-year, $27MM extension on Monday.

Nuggets Guarantee Morris’ 2020/21 Salary, Interested In Extension

Nuggets point guard Monte Morris had his salary for the upcoming 2020/21 season guaranteed on Friday, Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith noted (Twitter link). With his salary guaranteed, the focus shifts to a possible extension, as there appears to be mutual interest in a new deal.

As we relayed earlier this month, Morris – entering his fourth season – is eligible for an extension for the first time in his career. The 25-year-old has been a strong backup point guard for Denver, especially his 2018/19 campaign when he appeared in all 82 games (six starts) while averaging 10.4 PPG and 3.6 APG. Morris shot nearly 50% from the field and 41.4% from three that season.

Last season was also a strong showing for the Iowa State product as he produced 9.0 PPG and 3.5 APG with a strong 45.9% field goal percentage. And even with Facundo Campazzo entering the point guard mix in Denver, the Nuggets are interested in extending Morris, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link).

“I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone,” Morris told Singer earlier this month. “I would love to get an extension here. I love Denver. I love everything from the organization to the coaches all the way down to equipment, to everyone. Me personally, hopefully, if it goes that way. I would love to be in Denver for however long.”

Morris is eligible for an extension starting at up to 120% of the league’s estimate average salary. Given his status as a minimum-salary player and the present cap numbers, Morris’ extension could be worth up to $53.76MM over four years.

Per the earlier report, while the interest is mutual, a yearly salary in the $6MM range is reportedly a “non-starter” for Morris. However, there is no rush to get an extension done as both sides can take talks into the season.

NBA Sets Estimated Average Salary, Early Bird Exception For 2020/21

The NBA revealed today that the estimated average salary for the 2020/21 season will be $10,000,000, while the Early Bird exception amount will be $10,047,450, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN and Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter links).

The estimated average salary for a league year is defined as 104.5% of the average salary for the NBA’s previous league year, while the Early Bird amount is 105% of the previous average salary. Those figures are important for different reasons.

When a player signs a veteran contract extension, he can receive a starting salary worth either 120% of the final-year salary in his current deal or 120% of the league’s estimated average salary. So, extension-eligible players earning below $10MM in 2020/21 will be able to receive $12MM in the first season of a four-year extension.

As Marks notes, this would apply to players like Trail Blazers wing Gary Trent Jr., Nuggets guard Monte Morris, and Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham. If they want to sign extensions this fall that go into effect in 2021/22, they’d be eligible to receive up to $53.76MM over four years.

As for the Early Bird exception, it represents the starting salary that teams can offer to their own free agents using Early Bird rights, assuming that amount is greater than 175% of the player’s previous salary.

This will apply this offseason to free agents like Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo and Pistons big man Christian Wood. If their own teams want to re-sign them using Early Bird rights, the offers won’t be able to exceed $10,047,450 in year one. In order to offer a higher starting salary, those teams would have to use cap room (which the Pistons will have, but the Lakers won’t).

Because the salary cap isn’t increasing or decreasing for 2020/21, other values tied to the cap will remain unchanged. This applies to the maximum and minimum salaries, as well as the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, as we explained earlier in the week. The tax apron ($138,928,000) and the limit on cash sent/received in trades ($5,617,000) will also be the same in ’20/21 as they were in ’19/20.

Northwest Notes: Wolves’ No. 1 Pick, M. Morris, Thunder, McDaniels

The Timberwolves haven’t received tempting offers yet for the top pick in next week’s draft, but executive vice president Sachin Gupta said “three phone” time is coming soon, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. That’s what Gupta calls the days immediately before the draft when front office members are balancing several phone calls at once.

“There’s not a whole lot of pleasantries that are happening with those calls,” he said. “There’s no time for it. It’s, ‘What do you want? What do you got for me?’ ”

Minnesota should find a lot of interest in the top selection between now and November 18. The Warriors and Hornets are both believed to be eyeing former Memphis center James Wiseman, while Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball may entice other teams to move up. The Wolves could have the luxury of playing teams against each another to drive up offers.

“We’ve always been active, and with these types of assets at our disposal, it really plays into sort of our mentality of turning over every rock and figuring out what all the possibilities are,” Gupta said.

There’s more from the Northwest Division: