Paul Millsap

Nuggets Exercise Paul Millsap’s Team Option

12:48pm: The Nuggets have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve picked up Millsap’s option.

11:54am: The Nuggets are picking up their team option for 2019/20 on big man Paul Millsap, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The option will pay Millsap $30.35MM for next season, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

[RELATED: NBA Team Option Decisions For 2019/20]

Millsap, 34, played a slightly reduced role for Denver in 2018/19. His 12.6 PPG and 27.1 MPG were his lowest marks since the 2009/10 campaign. However, his interior presence helped stabilize the Nuggets’ defense, and he also chipped in as a rebounder (7.2 RPG) and outside threat (.365 3PT%).

There was some uncertainty over whether the Nuggets would exercise Millsap’s option, given its cost. The team was believed to be exploring whether turning down that option and bringing back Millsap on a more favorable multiyear contract was possible. However, as Marks points out (via Twitter), a deal along those lines would have cut into Denver’s projected cap space for 2020, which may represent the club’s best chance to spend.

If Denver had decided to move on from Millsap altogether, the team could have opened up about $17MM in cap room to pursue an outside free agent. Instead, as Wojnarowski tweets, the Nuggets are in position to potentially use their full mid-level exception ($9.25MM) and still sneak under the projected tax line.

Millsap, meanwhile, is now on track to reach the unrestricted free agent market in 2020 at age 35.

Today represents the last day for clubs to exercise team options or for veterans to pick up player options, so the Nuggets took their decision on Millsap down to the wire.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Millsap, Blazers, Lakers, D-Lo, Kemba, Portis

The Nuggets are prepared to potentially account for Paul Millsap‘s $30MM team option on their 2019/20 cap if they don’t believe they’ll be able to negotiate a new, more favorable deal with the big man in free agency, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested as part of the network’s free agency special on Tuesday night (video link).

While the Nuggets would have limited cap flexibility this summer with Millsap’s $30MM on their books, the club values him and wants to bring him back, according to both Woj and ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Meanwhile, Woj and Lowe also weighed in on Trail Blazers, Denver’s opponent in the Western Semifinals this spring. There are indications that the Blazers won’t rest on their laurels this offseason, according to Lowe, who suggests that Portland may be one move away from becoming a legit title threat.

Wojnarowski agrees, though he cautions that the Blazers – who are more likely to make a big move via trade than on the free agent market – may end up waiting until during the season to try to make that move. Woj adds that Portland may not be able to keep Rodney Hood, since it looks as if his value this summer could exceed the taxpayer mid-level. The Blazers don’t have Hood’s Bird rights.

Here’s more on free agency from around the NBA:

  • In a pair of ESPN appearances (video links), Wojnarowski continues to suggest that the idea of a reunion between the Lakers and D’Angelo Russell isn’t far-fetched. According to Woj, Russell is “open-minded” about the idea, while the Lakers wouldn’t mind seeing Kyrie Irving go to Brooklyn, since it would increase the odds of the Nets withdrawing Russell’s QO and making him an unrestricted free agent. If Anthony Davis waives his trade kicker, the Lakers could theoretically offer Russell his max without trading Moritz Wagner or Isaac Bonga.
  • One league source who spoke to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) views the Celtics as the favorites for free agent point guard Kemba Walker, followed by the Hornets and Mavericks.
  • The Wizards aren’t expected to match a huge offer sheet for Bobby Portis, who has generated interest from multiple teams already, sources tell Tony Jones and Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jones also repeats a number that has been previously reported, indicating that Portis is seeking an annual salary of up to $16MM.
  • Al-Farouq Aminu is technically eligible for a contract extension with the Trail Blazers until Sunday, but he tells Jason Quick of The Athletic, “I haven’t really talked to [president of basketball operations] Neil [Olshey] (Twitter link). Aminu will reach the open market as an unrestricted free agent on the evening of June 30, assuming Portland doesn’t lock him up before then.

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

More Names Revealed For Team USA World Cup Tryouts

Team USA’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup will be announced next week, but four players have already been confirmed, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker will definitely be part of the team, while the other 14 slots are still being worked out. The roster will be trimmed to 12 when the players gather in Las Vegas in early August to prepare for the tournament, which takes place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski drops a few more names in a full story on the World Cup tryouts, which sources tell him are also expected to include Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Others planning to be part of the camp include Eric Gordon, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond and Kyle Kuzma.

P.J. Tucker will attend training camp as well, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, and league sources tell Woj that Paul Millsap also plans to be there. Other names leaked for the camp are Tobias Harris (Twitter link from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer) and Myles Turner (Twitter link from Scott Agness of the Athletic).

Zion Williamson, expected to be the first pick in the draft later this month, has been invited to camp as part of the 10-man select team that will scrimmage against the 18-man roster, Stein tweets. Williamson will be given a chance to play his way onto the final roster if he has a standout performance in that role, according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Twitter link).

The select team will also include John Collins and Marvin Bagley, tweets Tim Bomtemps of ESPN.

The camp will be held from August 5-8, with exhibition games to follow before the start of World Cup play. Gregg Popovich will serve as head coach.

Nuggets Notes: Millsap, Connelly, Karnisovas, Offseason

The Nuggets are optimistic they’ll retain veteran forward Paul Millsap, though not necessarily by picking up his $30.1MM option for next season, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post reports. “Our goal and Paul’s goal is to have him back with us,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. The easiest way to do that would be to pick up the option by the June 29 deadline but that would hamper the team’s ability to make upgrades.

It already has more than $90MM in guaranteed salary commitments for next season. A more likely scenario would be to decline the option and sign Millsap to a multi-year deal in free agency at a lower annual salary. “We both want the same thing,” Connelly said. “We’ll figure out the best way for the organization and Paul to make sure that’s achieved. I fully expect Paul to be back in a Nuggets uniform.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Connelly downplayed his interview with the Wizards for their top front office job, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. “We just had a conversation. It was not much more than that,” Connelly said. There are conflicting reports on whether the Wizards formally made Connelly a four-year contract offer but he ultimately decided to stay put.
  • Head coach Michael Malone said the organization “wouldn’t have skipped a beat” if Connelly had taken the Wizards job and the Nuggets replaced him with GM Arturas Karnisovas, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic tweets. However, Malone is happy Connelly decided to stay since they and owner Josh Kroenke have a strong working relationship.
  • The Nuggets can’t continue to rely on developing their young players alone to bridge the gap between them and the other championship contenders, Kosmider writes. The moves that Connelly makes this offseason will be crucial and viewed with intense scrutiny, Kosmider adds.

Northwest Notes: Hood, Millsap, Zanik, Jazz

An MRI on Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood‘s left knee showed no structural damage and he’ll be listed as day-to-day for the Western Conference Finals, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Hood suffered a bone bruise when he ran into a pick set by the Nuggets’ Torrey Craig during Portland’s Game 7 victory on Sunday. Hood, who enters unrestricted free agency this summer, was a major factor off the bench in the series against the Nuggets. He averaged 14.7 PPG in the conference semifinals.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Veteran forward Paul Millsap is intent on helping a team win a championship, whether it’s the Nuggets or another contending franchise, as he told Mike Singer of the Denver Post. The team holds a $30MM option on Millsap’s contract for next season. “We’ve proved everybody wrong,” the 34-year-old Millsap said. “For me, not really trying to prove everybody wrong, but prove to myself that I can do it my way and still win. I can do it with whoever I want to do it with. It ain’t got to be the Golden State Warriors of the Lakers or whatever. I can help a young, talented team reach that goal.”
  • New Jazz GM Justin Zanik believes that continuity within the organization will get it to the next level, as he told Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News. Zanik was promoted from assistant GM last week. “We have a very experienced front office and we know what we need to do,” he said, “so however we get that done, we’re going to do it together and continue to just keep pushing forward with the Jazz to keep us on this championship-competitive path.”
  • Zanik’s promotion, as well as the elevation of Dennis Lindsey to executive VP of basketball operations, doesn’t mean big changes are on the way, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune writes.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Saunders, Layden, Donovan

The Nuggets wrapped up their first playoff series victory in a decade last night, but the franchise would have been well positioned for the future no matter what happened, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Franchise cornerstone Nikola Jokic is signed through the 2022/23 season, while young star Jamal Murray remains on his rookie contract. Denver has a $30MM option for next year on Paul Millsap and can get nearly $20MM under the cap by declining it. They hold three trade exceptions totaling roughly $33MM that don’t expire until July, and first-round pick Michael Porter Jr. is expected to be ready next year after missing this season because of back surgery.

“What gets me really excited is when I think about what this team has in the next couple of years,” coach Michael Malone said. “I think we have a great window that we’re just beginning with this young group, and Malik (Beasley), Jamal, all of our young guys are a big part of that.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders and GM Scott Layden have been meeting with prospective candidates for the president of basketball operations job and both seem in position to return next season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Layden, who was rumored to be on thin ice after the Jimmy Butler fiasco, solidified his relationship with owner Glen Taylor after Tom Thibodeau was fired, Krawczynski adds. Sanders is still classified as an interim coach, but he has the full support of star center Karl-Anthony Towns and virtually all the players.
  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan didn’t offer any clues about his future with the franchise during this week’s exit interviews, relays Clay Horning of The Norman Transcript. “For me, it’s just kind of business as usual,” said Donovan, who is coming off his third straight first-round playoff ouster. “(GM) Sam (Presti) and I had a chance to visit a little bit on the plane yesterday on the way back, just talking about the next couple of days and getting together. So, I’m sure he and I will get a chance to sit down as some of this stuff slows down and talk in detail and (I) look forward to that.”
  • Thunder rookie Deonte Burton thinks he benefited greatly from the time he spent in the G League, relays Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. Burton started the season as a two-way player before signing a multi-year contract in March. “G League is good talent, too,” he said. “Like a lot, a lot more talent than people think.”

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Millsap, Murray, Harkless, Nuggets

The Trail Blazers are focused on executing their game plan more than using their emotion for Sunday’s Game 4 in Oklahoma City, Sekou Smith of NBA.com writes. 

Portland will look to take a 3-1 series lead in a hostile playoff environment and quiet the boisterous Thunder crowd, one of the league’s toughest arenas to win games in.

“We’ve just got to focus on us,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “We’ve got to be us and do what we do and all of the peripheral stuff … doesn’t have to do with us.”

The Blazers protected home court in Games 1 and 2, jumping out to a 2-0 series lead. Stealing Game 4 on Sunday would allow the team to wrap the series up in five games at their arena on Tuesday, but the mission will prove to be challenging.

“It’s going to be talk, it’s going to be fouls, it’s going to be all that stuff. All that stuff is going to be part of it. But it’s who can deal with that stuff and not be too emotional,” Lillard said on Saturday, one day after a crazy Game 3 atmosphere. “Who can be more even-keeled. Who can handle it more and still have the right mentality through all of those things. And we just stay within ourselves, play hard and we compete.

“And if something is brought to our doorstep, we’re going to open the door and see what’s going on. And that’s all it was. Because we don’t go out there talking and acting no type of way. But like I said, if it comes to our doorstep, we’re going to open the door and see what’s going on.”

There’s more today from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap opened up on “little brother” and teammate Jamal Murray, as detailed by Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “The main thing is just playing the game,” Millsap said of Murray. “Not getting focused on what people want him to do but just playing the game. Seeing him having 19 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds instead of focusing in on just scoring and trying to be going for 50 every single night. He’s actually playing the game now, and I’m super proud of him by how far he’s come.”
  • Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless was fined $15,000 for throwing his headband into the spectator stands during Game 3 of the team’s series against Oklahoma City, the league announced on Saturday. Harkless’ incident marks the fifth separate fine the NBA has issued since the weekend began.
  • Nuggets coach Mike Malone made a change to his starting lineup in Game 4 against San Antonio, starting Torrey Craig in place of Will Barton. The adjustment played a part in Denver stealing a road victory and regaining homecourt advantage, with Craig scoring 18 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in 37 minutes. “Torrey’s size and physicality, his hustle, like Torrey Craig was leaving it all on the floor, which I love,” Malone previously said after Game 3, as relayed by Mike Singer in a different story for the Denver Post. “And then Malik’s obviously shooting (well).  He’s been one of our best offensive players this whole series, shooting the ball very confidently. Attacking the basket and also playing pretty good defense. Both of those guys warrant more minutes, and I’m sure they’ll both get a great chance to play extended minutes [in Game 4].”

Paul Millsap Wants Long-Term Future With Nuggets

Paul Millsap landed a massive, three-year, $90MM deal with the Nuggets following the 2016/17 season and while there was initially a frustrating adjustment period filled with injuries, he’s happy with where he is now.

“I could see myself being here long-term, for the rest of my career,” Millsap told Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I can see this organization and this group of guys making a nice play at the championship. I feel like there’s a lot of youth, a lot of growth that can be made and you add that on top of what we’ve done this season with experience and you’ve got yourself a championship-caliber team. Definitely want to be a part of that, but I’ll deal with that when it gets there.”

Millsap’s contract contains a $30MM team option for next season. Denver has roughly $90MM in guaranteed salary on its books next year and the franchise will tiptoe over the luxury tax line should it bring him back with the current roster.

“It’s something that we’ll discuss at the end of the season with management, but I want to do something that fits for everybody,” Millsap said of his contract. “We’ll see.”

The most likely path for Millsap returning next season appears to be working out a new deal once the Nuggets declines his option, although that’s simply my speculation. The power forward has been a key contributor for Denver since the All-Star break, scoring 16.2 points per game (good for third on the team) during that stretch.

Millsap is much older than some of his teammates. Players like Jamal Murray and Monte Morris are each at least a decade younger than the 2006 second-round pick. Coach Mike Malone appreciates having a respected veteran around the squad.

“When he speaks, it carries such [weight]… because he picks his spots. Some guys that talk all the time, you start to tune them out a little bit,” Malone said. “I think he’s got a calming influence.”

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Jokic, Millsap, Wolves

While teammate Damian Lillard says he’s mentally preparing for C.J. McCollum to miss most or all of the rest of the regular season with a knee injury, McCollum isn’t ready to specify a target date or even to provide a general recovery timeline. As Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com relays, McCollum says he’s simply taking the injury “day by day.”

“What, did they say I’ll be re-evaluated in one week?” McCollum said when asked about a potential return date. “So, just taking it day by day, I don’t have a timeline that I’m going to give you guys, but I think just based on the research, there’s not a lot of injuries like this that have happened. So timeline is different just depending on the age, how well your body heals, what you’ve done before that and kind of where you’re at. But hopefully I can be back sooner than later.”

As I noted on Tuesday, the Trail Blazers are in a competitive race for a top-four seed, but have an easier schedule than several of their Western Conference rivals, meaning they won’t rush McCollum back onto the court. The important thing for Portland is that the 27-year-old is as close to 100% healthy as possible when the postseason gets underway. He’s due to be re-evaluated this weekend.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • When the Nuggets clinched a playoff spot earlier this week, Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap locked in bonuses worth $431K and $150K respectively, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN.com, who adds (via Twitter) that both players will receive additional bonuses if Denver wins a postseason series. As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports observes (via Twitter), Jokic and Millsap will have slightly higher cap hits next season now that those incentives shift from “unlikely” to “likely.”
  • Cameron Reynolds‘ new multiyear deal with Minnesota is actually a three-year contract that runs through 2020/21, tweets Keith Smith. That means the Timberwolves used a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Reynolds. The deal still isn’t expected to include much – if any – guaranteed money beyond this season.
  • The Timberwolves‘ playoff hopes have been extinguished, but there’s still plenty to watch in Minnesota in the coming weeks, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Most pressingly, it remains to be seen who will be making the personnel decisions for the club this offseason or coaching the team next fall, Robson notes.