Vlatko Cancar

Vlatko Cancar Re-Signs With Nuggets

Vlatko Cancar has signed a new contract with the Nuggets, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

Details of the deal weren’t released, but Vinny Benedetto of The Denver Gazette (Twitter link) says the deal is worth the veteran’s minimum. As we noted recently, a one-year minimum deal would pay Cancar $2.3MM while carrying a $2.09MM cap hit.

The 27-year-old power forward became an unrestricted free agent last month when the Nuggets declined their option for next season. However, the two sides continued to negotiate in hopes of keeping him in Denver. They wound up with a new agreement that gives Cancar a slight raise while decreasing his impact on the Nuggets’ cap number.

Cancar missed all of last season with a torn ACL, but he was able to play for Slovenia in this week’s Olympic qualifying tournament and he should be 100% when training camp opens in late September.

Cancar has spent his entire NBA career in Denver after being selected with the 49th pick in the 2017 draft. He was an important contributor during the Nuggets’ championship season, appearing in 60 games and averaging 5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 14.8 minutes per night.

Free Agent Notes: Cancar, Suns, Lowry, Sixers, Martin, Hield

When the Nuggets declined their team option on Vlatko Cancar for the 2024/25 season, multiple reports indicated that the two sides would likely work out a new minimum-salary deal that would both increase the forward’s salary (from the $2.35MM the option would have paid to $2.43MM) and reduce Denver’s cap hit (from $2.35MM to $2.09MM).

That deal hasn’t happened yet, but Cancar – who is representing Slovenia at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Greece after missing the 2023/24 season with a torn ACL – expressed a desire to return to Denver, per Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.

“I’m still waiting on their decision, We’ll see,” Cancar said. “… I want to be back. My goal is to be back. Hopefully there’s room.”

As Harris Stavrou of SPORTS24 tweets, Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth was at the Olympic qualifiers on Thursday watching Cancar and the Slovenians secure a spot in the semifinals by defeating New Zealand. Nuggets scout Marty Pocius was also in attendance with Booth, tweets Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports.

Here are a few more notes on free agency:

  • Even after signing Monte Morris, the Suns are still believed to have interest in veteran point guard Kyle Lowry, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. However, Gambadoro says Lowry may be a long shot for Phoenix since the team can only offer the veteran’s minimum to outside free agents. The Suns are also still working on a new deal for their own free agent Josh Okogie, Gambadoro adds.
  • The Sixers definitely have interest in free agent forward Caleb Martin, according to Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports (Twitter link), but he may be out of range of what they can realistically offer him. Philadelphia is expected to continue to monitor Martin’s market, says Neubeck.
  • The Pistons and Lakers were among Buddy Hield‘s other free agent suitors before he decided to join the Warriors, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Charania, the veteran sharpshooter chose Golden State “because of the opportunity to win.”

Northwest Notes: Cancar, Clingan, Edey, Caruso, Jazz, Nuggets

It appears Vlatko Cancar won’t be testing free agency. The Nuggets and Cancar are negotiating a new contract, The Athletic’s Tony Jones tweets.

Denver is declining the $2,346,606 option on Cancar’s current contract due to luxury tax concerns, but it appears that move is the first step in getting the forward back on a deal that would benefit both sides. If Cancar re-signs with the Nuggets on a minimum-salary deal, he would project to make $2,432,511 in ’24/25, while the team would carry a cap hit of $2,093,637.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers have worked out Donovan Clingan and Zach Edey and seem to be leaning toward drafting a center, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reports. The Blazers own the No. 7 and 14 picks. Clingan is expected to be off the board by the No. 7 pick but the Blazers are high enough on Edey that they may grab him with the first of those picks, according to O’Connor, who suggests that if they wind up with a center on draft day, they could look to move Deandre Ayton and/or Robert Williams.
  • While the Thunder have ample cap space this summer, they will be hard-capped at the first tax apron in 2024/25 due to the Alex Caruso trade, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tweets. That’s because they took on a higher salary than they’re sending out (Josh Giddey).
  • The Jazz hold the No. 10, 29 and 32 picks in the draft. How valuable are those latter two picks and should they try to deal them? Kevin Reynolds of the Salt Lake Tribune explores that topic.
  • Due to a lack of contracts they could package with their first-round pick at No. 28 to obtain another impact player, the Nuggets are likely to retain the pick and seek out another late-round gem, Bennett Durando of the Denver Post writes.

Nuggets To Decline 2024/25 Team Option On Vlatko Cancar

The Nuggets have decided to decline their 2024/25 team option on Vlatko Cancar, a source tells Bennett Durando of The Denver Post (Twitter links).

However, it sounds like there’s mutual interest in a reunion.

As Durando observes, the Nuggets are declining the $2,346,606 option due to luxury tax concerns. But if Cancar re-signs with Denver on a minimum-salary deal, he would project to make $2,432,511 in ’24/25 while the Nuggets would carry a cap hit of $2,093,637.

Durando believes the 27-year-old is “likely” to return to the Nuggets on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract.

Cancar missed the entire ’23/24 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee last summer. As Durando notes, Cancar has been preparing to play with the Slovenian national team ahead of the country’s Olympic qualifying tournament, which takes place early next month in Greece.

A former second-round pick who was stashed overseas for a couple years before coming stateside in 2019, Cancar averaged 5.0 PPG and 2.1 RPG on .476/.374/.927 shooting in 60 games (14.8 MPG) in ’22/23, when the Nuggets won their first championship.

The full list of team option decisions for next season can be found right here. June 23 was the deadline for Denver’s decision on Cancar, but most other decisions aren’t due until June 29.

International Notes: Slovenia, Doncic, Croatia, South Sudan, Siulepa

The Slovenian national team has officially announced the 16 players who will make up its preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Greece next month (Twitter link). While the 16-man group features currently Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar and a couple other players with prior NBA experience (Zoran Dragic and Mike Tobey), the headliner is Mavericks guard Luka Doncic.

Slovenia obviously hopes that Doncic will be available to help the team try to claim one of the final four Olympic berths this summer, and the Mavs star said on Wednesday that he wants to do so, despite battling knee issues this spring, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. Doncic still has one more series to get through, so his availability in Greece will presumably hinge on how he’s feeling at the conclusion of the NBA Finals.

Here’s more from around the international basketball world:

  • Croatia, which will be in Slovenia’s group at the qualifying tournament in Greece, has also announced a preliminary roster for that event. Warriors forward Dario Saric and Clippers center Ivica Zubac are among the 17 players who are candidates to make up the 12-man roster, while former NBA wing Mario Hezonja is one of the other notable names in that group.
  • South Sudan, which has already qualified for the Olympics based on its results at last year’s World Cup, revealed a 25-man preliminary roster for Paris (Twitter link). Some of the biggest names in the mix for roster spots include Bol Bol, Wenyen Gabriel, Thon Maker, JT Thor, and World Cup star Carlik Jones.
  • Seventeen-year-old Australian prospect Roman Siulepa is signing with the Tasmania JackJumpers as part of the National Basketball League’s Next Stars program, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Givony identifies Siulepa as one of the most promising international prospects in his age group, noting that the 6’7″ small forward has averaged 21.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in the second division of Australia’s NBL this season.

Nuggets Notes: Offseason, KCP, Braun, Cancar, MPJ

Addressing reporters at his end-of-season press conference on Thursday, Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth didn’t say anything that would suggest major roster changes are in the cards for the franchise this offseason, writes Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. While Booth suggested some tweaks will be necessary, he stressed that continuing to develop the team’s young players will be crucial to improving the roster as a whole.

“I think (the 2023 draft picks) need more seasoning,” Booth said. “They need to get in the gym. They need to play Summer League. They need to get stronger. Obviously, maybe in our top seven, we can use a little bit more talent. Maybe there’s a way to upgrade one or two positions. … Get a guy that’s a more accomplished NBA player for whatever (roster) slot they’re taking. But I don’t see anything that’s, like, crazy out of sorts for our roster.”

After losing key rotation pieces like Bruce Brown and Jeff Green last offseason, the Nuggets relied primarily on recent draftees to replace them, adding three rookies (Julian Strawther, Jalen Pickett, and Hunter Tyson) to the roster and assigning 2022 first-rounders Christian Braun and Peyton Watson larger roles.

Of those players, Braun was the only one head coach Michael Malone trusted in the postseason, resulting in some questions about whether Booth and Malone are in the same page when it comes to filling out the roster and distributing minutes. That’s a subject that has been discussed within the organization, as Durando relays.

“We’ve talked about this a lot upstairs,” Booth said. “The general manager, front office job oftentimes is to make sure the long-term view is something that we’re satisfied with. And Coach Malone’s down there in the trenches trying to win every night. And a lot of times, those things are aligned, but sometimes they ebb and flow away from each other.”

Here’s more on the Nuggets, via Durando:

  • Asked about the possibility of surpassing the punitive second tax apron in order to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, both team president Josh Kroenke and Booth expressed a level of comfort with operating above the aprons if it means maximizing the potential of a championship-caliber roster. “We spend a lot of time looking at the second apron and all this other stuff,” Booth said. “I think for me personally, it’s win a championship, one. Two, we have to look at the overall financial picture. And three, second apron. And I know the second apron is daunting, and there’s all kinds of restrictions, but I don’t think that’s first on our priority list. KCP’s been a great addition the last couple years. We obviously would love to have him back. We’re gonna take a hard look at what that looks like.”
  • If the Nuggets do lose Caldwell-Pope, it would likely thrust Braun into a starting job. Booth and Malone said they’re confident the young wing could succeed in that role if he continues to improve as a shooter. “I think Christian Braun, it’s all gonna come down to one thing. To be a shooting guard in the NBA, you’ve gotta be able to make shots,” Malone said. “That’s the bottom line. So if you want to simplify CB’s future as a starting two guard in the NBA, it’ll be determined upon his ability to be a 38% or above 3-point shooter.” Braun made 38.4% of his three-pointers in 2023/24, but didn’t shoot them at a high volume, converting just 63 in 82 games.
  • Booth said he expects Vlatko Cancar, who missed the entire season due to a torn ACL, to be able to suit up for Slovenia in the Olympic qualifiers, noting that the tournament will be a “great chance” to evaluate the big man. The qualifying tournament won’t begin until July 2, however, and the Nuggets will have to decide by June 29 whether or not to exercise Cancar’s $2.35MM team option.
  • The Nuggets signaled multiple times during Thursday’s presser that they likely won’t explore trading Michael Porter Jr. this summer, writes Durando. Kroenke expressed faith in the team’s current starting lineup (which includes Porter) and Malone refuted the idea (expressed by Porter himself) that MPJ was to blame for the second-round loss to Minnesota.

Nuggets Apply For Disabled Player Exception

The Nuggets have asked the NBA to grant them a disabled player exception for forward Vlatko Cancar, reports Vinny Benedetto of The Denver Gazette (Twitter link).

Cancar tore his left ACL in August and is expected to miss the entire 2023/24 season. A disabled player exception gives an over-the-cap team some extra spending power when it loses a player to an injury deemed likely to sideline him through at least June 15.

As we explain in our glossary entry, the exception can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. A DPE can only be used on a single player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

The disabled player exception is worth half the injured player’s salary, up to the amount of the mid-level exception. It doesn’t open up an extra spot on the 15-man roster, so the club must have a roster spot available to use the DPE to add a player.

Cancar’s salary this season is only $2,234,359, so if the Nuggets are granted a DPE, it would be worth just $1,117,180. An exception that small almost certainly won’t be used, but there are rare instances in which it might come in handy — for instance, Denver could use it during the final few weeks of the season to offer a free agent more than the prorated minimum salary.

So far in 2023/24, the Bulls, Grizzlies, and Trail Blazers have been granted disabled player exception, while the Knicks and Spurs have each reportedly applied for a DPE as well. This season’s deadline to use a DPE is March 11.

Nuggets’ Vlatko Cancar Undergoes Surgery For Torn ACL

Forward Vlatko Cancar, who sustained a torn ACL in his left knee earlier this month, recently underwent ACL reconstruction surgery, the Nuggets announced (Twitter link via Mike Singer of The Denver Post).

While Cancar is officially out indefinitely, ACL tears typically have a recovery timeline of 12-plus months, so it seems highly likely that he’ll be sidelined for the entire 2023/24 season.

Cancar suffered the injury while playing in an exhibition game for Team Slovenia as it prepares for the 2023 World Cup. The 26-year-old has had strong international showings for his native country in recent years, including during the 2020 Olympics and last year’s EuroBasket.

It’s a very unfortunate setback for both Cancar and the Nuggets, who lost some bench depth this offseason and now will be without Cancar as well.

A former draft-and-stash second-round pick (49th overall in 2017), Cancar emerged as a semi-regular rotation player in 2022/23, averaging 5.0 PPG and 2.1 RPG on .476/.374/.927 shooting in 60 games (14.8 MPG). He was not in the team’s shortened postseason rotation, however, playing 10 total minutes over five games during Denver’s championship run.

Cancar will make a guaranteed $2.2MM in ’23/24, and the Nuggets hold a $2.3MM team option on his contract for ’24/25.

Nuggets’ Vlatko Cancar Suffers Torn ACL

Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on Friday while playing for Slovenia in an exhibition game against Greece leading up to the 2023 World Cup, per The Denver Post’s Mike Singer. According to Singer, there’s no timetable as of yet for the surgery.

A torn ACL typically necessitates upward of a year of recovery time, meaning it would be somewhat surprising to see Cancar suit up in 2023.

It’s unfortunate news for the 26-year-old, who began carving out a bigger role with the Nuggets last season. With Jeff Green and Thomas Bryant, along with hybrid guard Bruce Brown, departing Denver in free agency, it looked like Cancar was in line for an even larger responsibility this upcoming season.

Cancar is in the second year of a three-year, $6.8MM deal he signed in 2022. He has a team option for next season, his final year of club control before he hits the open market. Given that Cancar made noticeable strides last season and the fact that he’s been in Denver’s system for so long, it’s possible that the Nuggets will keep him around through next season, despite the injury.

The 6’8″ forward joined the Nuggets in 2019 after being selected by the team with the No. 49 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. In his first three seasons with Denver, Cancar averaged 2.3 points per game in 70 appearances. This past season, Cancar averaged 5.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 60 contests (nine starts).

Cancar wasn’t just an important piece for the Nuggets, but also for Slovenia, who are aiming to medal in the World Cup. Cancar averaged 12.8 points in six games in the 2020 Olympics and averaged 11.6 points in seven EuroBasket contests in 2022.

Western Notes: Gilgeous-Alexander, Jones, Cancar, Nuggets’ Bench

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander pumped in 35 points against New Orleans on Saturday but the Thunder are still playing it cautious with his recent injury. He sat out the second game of a back-to-back against San Antonio on Sunday due to what the team described as abdominal strain injury management, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets. The Thunder star guard has exceeded the 30-point mark in his last four outings.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Tre Jones missed the Spurs‘ game against Oklahoma City on Sunday with a non-COVID illness, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News tweets. Jones averaged 13 points and six assists in his last two appearances.
  • Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar was available to play against Brooklyn on Sunday, coach Michael Malone told Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Cancar missed three games with a wrist sprain and also didn’t play against San Antonio on Friday.
  • The Nuggets’ second unit has been unsettled after changes were made during and after the trade deadline, Singer writes. Reggie Jackson has struggled with his shooting (29%) since becoming the backup point guard and Thomas Bryant has been relatively quiet since he was brought in to back up Nikola Jokic. “We’re still trying to figure stuff out,” swingman Bruce Brown said.