Paul Millsap

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Barton, Porter, Offseason

The Nuggets became the latest NBA team to be eliminated from the postseason, as the Suns completed a four-game sweep on Sunday night in Denver. This season’s Most Valuable Player, Nikola Jokic, wasn’t on the court for the last quarter of his team’s season, having been ejected after being assessed with a flagrant two for a hard foul on Suns guard Cameron Payne. Head coach Michael Malone wasn’t thrilled with the decision, as ESPN’s Royce Young writes.

“I just didn’t feel like it warranted a flagrant two ejection because he’s making a play on the ball,” Malone said. “There’s marginal contact to Cameron Payne’s nose, I believe. So I was shocked. I’m still a little bit shocked that they called a flagrant two and ejected the MVP on such a play.”

Suns head coach Monty Williams said that he didn’t believe there was any “malicious” intent on Jokic’s part. But whether or not the star center had been ejected, the Nuggets were on the ropes and were unlikely to climb out of a deep hole in the series against Phoenix.

While Denver would’ve liked to advance further in the playoffs, the club was pleased with what it accomplished this season, including a first-round victory without standout guard Jamal Murray.

“The whole season was great, I think,” Jokic said. “Until the last four games.”

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • Nuggets guard Will Barton has battled toe, adductor, knee, and hamstring injuries since the 2019/20 season began and has had to mourn the death of his cousin, who was shot and killed in December 2019, writes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. Barton admitted after Sunday’s loss that the last 18 months have been “tough for me, physically and mentally,” but vowed to “keep fighting.”
  • Barton will have to decide in the coming weeks whether to pick up his $14.7MM option for 2021/22 or decline it to seek a new contract. According to Keeler, Barton said on Sunday that if he opts out, he’ll want to end up somewhere where he can “play my game” and be in a “winning environment.” A new contract with the Nuggets is a possibility, since it sounds like he views Denver as a place that meets those criteria. “I definitely believe we’ve got the pieces,” Barton said. “And if we’re healthy, I feel like we can win it. And that’s all I’ll say about that.”
  • Barton’s potential free agency will be one of the biggest decisions facing the Nuggets this summer, but there will be plenty of others, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, who points to JaMychal Green‘s contract situation, a possible extension for Aaron Gordon, and Paul Millsap‘s free agency as some other issues the organization will have to address.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) also previews the Nuggets’ offseason, with a focus on how the team will handle a potential rookie scale extension for rising star Michael Porter Jr.

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Millsap, Campazzo, Porter Jr., Crowds

A trio of Nuggets players earned financial rewards when the team advanced to the conference semifinals. Likely Most Valuable Player award winner Nikola Jokic pocketed $500K, while Paul Millsap and Facundo Campazzo added $100K apiece to their bank accounts, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. The bonuses do not impact the team’s cap situation since they were considered likely before the season started, Marks adds.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Michael Porter Jr.‘s Game 6 performance confirms that he’s star material, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post opines. Porter scored 22 points in the opening quarter, which kept the Nuggets within striking distance. Though he only scored four more points the rest of the way, it was another step in his maturation process, Keeler adds. Porter is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • The Nuggets will be allowed bring in crowds at near full capacity for the second round of the playoffs, according to a team press release. Some seating areas will be unavailable due to NBA safety restrictions but the team can fill the arena to 90.7% capacity. All fans age 3 and older will be required to wear a face mask and complete a health assessment prior to entry.
  • Though the Nuggets surprised many people around the league by defeating the Trail Blazers without their starting backcourt, coach Michael Malone said the team has loftier aspirations, Mike Singer of the Denver Post relays. “Our goal coming into the season was not to get out of the first round,” he said. “We have much bigger goals.”

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Millsap, Rivers, Barton

Part of Nikola Jokic‘s rise to being an MVP finalist has been his ability to adjust to different teammates, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. A string of roster moves and injuries, most notably to Jamal Murray, have shaken up the Nuggets‘ lineup throughout the season, but Jokic’s production hasn’t fallen.

Singer notes that Denver’s starters for tonight’s Game 1 of the playoff series with Portland will likely be Jokic, Michael Porter Jr.Facundo CampazzoAaron Gordon, and Austin Rivers. Porter is in his first year as a full-time starter, Campazzo is a rookie who has made 19 NBA starts, Gordon has been with the team for 25 games following a midseason trade, and Rivers has played 15 games after signing with the Nuggets last month.

“The attention that (Jokic) draws, being able to do so many things, not just score the ball, but pass and the way he passes and makes plays so easy for his teammates, makes him so unique to play with,” two-way guard Markus Howard said. “… Just the attention that he brings from opposing defenses, and his ability to be creative with the pass, is unlike anybody I’ve ever played with.”

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • After a decade as an NBA starter, Paul Millsap has adjusted to a reserve role since the trade for Gordon, as Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post writes. The 36-year-old power forward is trying to lead by example and make the best of his new responsibilities. “There are challenges that come with it,” Millsap said. “I want to compete. I want to play every single minute during a game. But that’s not possible and that’s what you have a team for. I’ve always been a guy (to do) whatever the team needs.”
  • Rivers is suffering from a non-COVID related illness, but the Nuggets are optimistic he will be able to play tonight, Singer tweets. He is officially listed as questionable.
  • Will Barton is hoping to be able to play in this series, but it won’t happen in Game 1, according to Clevis Murray of NBC Sports Northwest. Barton has been ruled out for tonight because of the strained hamstring that has sidelined him since April 23. PJ Dozier also remains out with a right adductor strain. “I think Will is definitely closer (to returning) than PJ,” coach Michael Malone said.

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.

Northwest Notes: Millsap, Nuggets, Thunder, Blazers, Wolves

After being sidelined for 10 games by a left knee sprain, Nuggets big man Paul Millsap came off the bench in his first game back, but was reinserted into the starting lineup on Saturday when Monte Morris and Gary Harris were unavailable.

According to Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, Millsap approached him after that Saturday loss and reiterated that he’d be happy to continue coming off the bench or to accept another role to avoid impending the chemistry the new starting group had established (Twitter link via Mike Singer of The Denver Post). Millsap has started both of Denver’s games since then – both wins – but could return to the bench once Morris and Harris return.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

Wolves Rumors: Hernangomez, Edwards, Rubio, Beasley

Timberwolves restricted free agent forward Juan Hernangomez initially sought an offer in excess of $10MM per year, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Unwilling to meet that price right off the bat, the Wolves “essentially told” Hernangomez to prove he could get an offer from another club while they went looking for possible alternatives at power forward, writes Krawczynski.

Minnesota ended up reaching out to a number forwards in free agency, including Derrick Jones (as previously outlined), Paul Millsap, Jae Crowder, and JaMychal Green, and inquired on possible trades involving Magic forward Aaron Gordon, Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, and Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr., sources tell Krawczynski.

The Timberwolves didn’t have any luck with any of those potential targets, but held firm on their offer to Hernangomez, who mulled the possibility of accepting the one-year qualifying offer worth $4.64MM, per Krawczynski. Ultimately, the two sides came to an agreement on a three-year, $21MM deal that has a third-year team option.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • The Timberwolves chose Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick last week because they believe he has the clearest path of any of this year’s draft-eligible prospects to becoming a multi-time All-Star, says Krawczysnki.
  • Sources tell The Athletic that the team’s acquisition of Ricky Rubio was partly motivated by seeing what the veteran point guard did for Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker at his previous stops and a belief that he’ll aid Edwards’ development.
  • The Knicks told Malik Beasley he’d be their Plan B in free agency if they couldn’t land Gordon Hayward, according to Krawczynski. Recognizing that New York could be a threat to put forth a troublesome offer sheet, the Wolves went in with an aggressive pitch on the opening night of free agency and secured a commitment from Beasley on the spot. Sources tell The Athletic that Beasley has appreciated the support he’s received from the franchise since running into off-court legal problems.
  • The Timberwolves officially announced Beasley’s new deal today. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) has the year-by-year financial breakdown of that contract, which guarantees the swingman $43MM+ over three years.

Nuggets Re-Sign Paul Millsap

DECEMBER 3: The Nuggets have officially re-signed Millsap, the team announced today in a press release. All of Denver’s reported offseason moves have now been finalized.


NOVEMBER 21: The Nuggets lost Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee on the first day of free agency, but they’re bringing back their other key frontcourt free agent. Denver has agreed to re-sign Paul Millsap to a one-year contract worth $10MM+, agent DeAngelo Simmons tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Millsap, 35, played fewer minutes per game (24.3) in 2019/20 than he had in any season since 2007/08, but he remained highly effective in those minutes. He averaged 11.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 1.6 APG with a solid shooting line of .482/.435/.816 in 51 games (48 starts).

Since arriving in Denver in 2017, Millsap has helped stabilize the team’s defense alongside Nikola Jokic in the frontcourt. With Plumlee and Grant departing in free agency, Millsap will share time up front in 2020/21 with the newly-added JaMychal Green, with youngsters like Michael Porter and Bol Bol expected to take on larger roles too.

Millsap received interest from “over half of the league” as a free agent, according to Charania (via Twitter). Earlier today, the Celtics were cited as a strong contender for the big man. However, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) hears that personal reasons played a major part in Millsap’s decision — he didn’t want to uproot his family from Denver.

Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said back in September that he’d “love to see” Millsap spend the rest of his career in Denver. While this contract won’t guarantee that, it’s a good first step.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Rumors: Millsap, Celtics, Hayward, Crowder

The Celtics are showing “strong interest” in signing veteran big man Paul Millsap, league sources tell Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) hears from his own source that Boston is currently at the top of Millsap’s list as he weighs his options. A decision is expected later today, Himmelsbach adds.

While the Celtics aren’t expected to create any cap room as a result of Gordon Hayward‘s departure, the team now has some added cap flexibility to make sign-and-trade and/or use its full mid-level exception, opening up a few options in free agency.

Here are a few more notes from around the East:

  • Speaking of Hayward, Hornets owner Michael Jordan called the veteran forward late last night in an effort to close the deal for Charlotte, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link). Jordan’s pitch must have been effective, though the $120MM the Hornets will apparently pay Hayward over the next four years probably didn’t hurt either.
  • The Heat offered Jae Crowder a two-year deal that would have paid him $14MM in 2020/21, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). However, Miami wasn’t willing to guarantee any money beyond the first year, so Crowder opted for the Suns’ three-year, $30MM offer, which will pay him less in year one but is worth significantly more overall.
  • In a column for The Athletic, David Aldridge contends that Wizards owner Ted Leonsis must decide if the franchise wants to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal and then trade the odd man out. While Aldridge’s argument makes some sense, it seems obvious that Beal would be the team’s choice and that trading Wall won’t exactly be easy.

Western Rumors: Howard, Lakers, Carmelo, Cousins, Kanter, More

Before he agreed to a deal with the Sixers on Friday night, Dwight Howard posted a message on his Twitter account indicating that he would be re-signing with the Lakers.

“I’m staying right where I belong,” Howard wrote. “Laker nation I love y’all. Purple and gold never gets old.”

A few minutes later, the tweet had been deleted, and a little later in the evening, Howard was set to join the 76ers. So what happened?

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, sources within the Lakers’ organization are adamant that they never put a formal offer on the table for Howard and that they discussed a “deal concept.” Howard, on the other hand, believe that if he agreed to the “deal concept,” the two sides had a deal.

As Haynes writes, Lakers management told Howard’s agent they had to consult with team ownership and get approval before making an official offer. The veteran center waited for almost an hour without hearing back, sources tell Haynes. Ultimately, the communication breakdown resulted in Howard preparing to head east for the 2020/21 season.

Here are a few more free agency notes and rumors from around the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers haven’t ruled out the possibility of re-signing Carmelo Anthony, even after lining up deals to acquire Robert Covington and Derrick Jones, tweets David Aldridge of The Athletic.
  • The Rockets touched base with DeMarcus Cousins‘ camp today, a source told Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iko’s report came before the team reached a deal with Christian Wood, so it’s not clear whether or not signing Cousins remains an option for Houston.
  • Now that the Lakers aren’t an option for Tristan Thompson, the Clippers could emerge as a real possibility, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who notes (via Twitter) that it’d be a chance for Thompson to reunite with Tyronn Lue.
  • The Lakers and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope remain interested in getting a deal done, but will have to reach a compromise on salary, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Caldwell-Pope is seeking a raise, while the Lakers won’t have a ton of wiggle room below their hard cap.
  • The Celtics gave Enes Kanter a choice of being traded to either the Grizzlies or Trail Blazers in the deal that was completed earlier today, and Kanter chose Portland, a source tells Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Count the Timberwolves among the teams with interest in free agent big man Paul Millsap, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link).

Free Agency Notes: Heat, Gibson, Beasley, Millsap

Heat president Pat Riley provided a major hint on his free agency plans during his post-draft availability on Wednesday night, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, who tweets that Riley said he hopes to “run this thing back.”

The Heat can essentially go one of two directions this weekend. One direction is renouncing most of their own free agents and opening up cap room to pursue outside FAs. The other is remaining over the cap and making an effort to bring back several of their own free agents, starting with Jae Crowder and Goran Dragic. It sounds like Riley is prepared to take the latter path.

Here’s more on free agency:

  • Although the Knicks waived Taj Gibson and turned down Bobby Portis‘ option, Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link) hears that the team still has some mutual interest with both players, who could return on more modest salaries. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News suggests (via Twitter) that the Suns, Clippers, and Warriors are among the other clubs to watch for Gibson.
  • Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said today during an appearance on The Chad Hartman Show in Minnesota that drafting Anthony Edwards doesn’t mean the team doesn’t plan to re-sign Malik Beasley. “We hope that relationship (with Beasley) continues,” Rosas said (Twitter link via Dane Moore of News Talk 830 WCCO). Wolfson (via Twitter) thinks that the Wolves and Beasley could work out a two-year deal.
  • Paul Millsap plans to weigh his options at the start of free agency and see what kind of market develops before making a decision, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. No deal is imminent yet for Millsap, who is expected to receive interest from the Nuggets and Trail Blazers, among others.
  • Suns GM James Jones said on Wednesday night that his front office will be looking for “Suns fits” in free agency, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. “I feel really good about our ability to build on the rest of our roster,” Jones said.