Will Barton

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Jokic, Campazzo, Barton

It has been six days since word broke that the Nuggets intended to sign DeMarcus Cousins to a 10-day contract. Denver has yet to officially move forward with that deal, but according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link), the club still has “significant interest” in adding the veteran center. Head coach Michael Malone discussed the possibility during a radio appearance today without making a commitment one way or the other.

“If (Cousins) becomes a member of this Nugget team at some point, obviously you’d be adding a terrific player,” Malone said (Twitter link via Harrison Wind of DVNR Sports). “I think his short stint in Milwaukee is proof of that. He went to the defending world champions and played lights out.”

For the moment, the Nuggets may not have a clear path to adding Cousins. They don’t have any players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, so they’re ineligible to sign a player to a 10-day contract using a COVID-related hardship exception. They also don’t have an opening on their 15-man roster.

Denver does qualify for an injury-related hardship exception, since Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, PJ Dozier, and Vlatko Cancar are all sidelined with long-term injuries. But James Ennis is already under contract on a 10-day hardship deal, so the Nuggets likely aren’t eligible to add another player until Ennis’ pact expires next Wednesday night.

As we keep an eye on the Nuggets’ roster situation and monitor their plans for Cousins, here are a few more notes out of Denver:

  • Michael Malone believes Nikola Jokic doesn’t get the credit deserves for his ongoing MVP-caliber play, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. “I think he is one of the more disrespected reigning MVPs that I can think of in terms of the attention,” Malone said this week, adding that Jokic’s lack of highlight-reel plays may undersell his impact. “… I mean, Nikola Jokic is not sexy. He’s just not. There is nothing about Nikola … his wife might disagree. But if you are a true student of the game, a coach, someone that loves the game being played the right way, then you appreciate him at the level that he should be appreciated at.”
  • Addressing what he called “nonsensical rumors,” Octagon Basketball Europe CEO David Carro Funes, who represents Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo, said (via Twitter) that his client fully intends to remain in the NBA going forward. Campazzo, who played in Argentina from 2008-14 and Spain from 2014-20, will be a free agent at season’s end. He spoke last month about his commitment to continue playing in the NBA beyond his current contract.
  • Will Barton sustained a scary-looking injury on Thursday when he lost his footing on a drive and banged his head against Jusuf Nurkic‘s knee. Barton remained on the floor for several minutes, but eventually walked to the locker room under his own power and later returned to the bench. He should be OK going forward, writes Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post.

COVID-19 Updates: Whiteside, Adams, Barton, Hornets, Spurs, More

Jazz center Hassan Whiteside has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter). Utah’s frontcourt depth is extremely depleted; in addition to Whiteside, Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay, and Udoka Azubuike are all in the protocols, while 10-day hardship signee Norvel Pelle is out Wednesday against Cleveland with a non-COVID illness, Walden tweets. Whiteside is now the sixth Jazz player currently in the protocols.

Here are more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Grizzlies center Steven Adams is listed as questionable with a non-COVID illness for Thursday’s contest against Minnesota, Memphis’ PR department tweets, so he has cleared the protocols.
  • The Nuggets received two pieces of good news, as Will Barton has exited the COVID-19 protocols and Markus Howard, who was supposed to be sidelined at least six weeks with a sprained knee, is listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest against Portland, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Howard has missed the past four weeks.
  • The news out of Charlotte is a mixed bag, as Vernon Carey Jr. has cleared the protocols, but rookie big man Kai Jones has entered for the Hornets, per the team’s PR department (Twitter links).
  • Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell have cleared the protocols for the Spurs and are available Wednesday night against Houston, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News tweets.
  • Bucks guard Grayson Allen said he was fortunate to have an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 and will be available Thursday against the Warriors, according to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Allen also mentioned that the time away helped him recover from the flu.
  • Rockets guard Armoni Brooks has cleared the health and safety protocols and is available Wednesday against the Spurs, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Nuggets Sign James Ennis To 10-Day Contract

6:53pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.


2:04pm: The Nuggets intend to sign forward James Ennis to a 10-day contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who says the plan is for Ennis to be available for Tuesday’s game vs. the Clippers.

The Nuggets, who have a full 15-man roster, will sign Ennis using a hardship exception. Will Barton has entered the health and safety protocols, per Charania (Twitter link), making the team eligible for a new hardship addition when Carlik Jones‘ 10-day contract expires tonight.

Denver is also reportedly likely to sign DeMarcus Cousins to a 10-day contract. The team doesn’t have any players besides Barton in the protocols, but will qualify for a non-COVID hardship exception because at least four players are on the shelf with long-term injuries.

Less than 24 hours ago, it looked like Ennis would be joining another Northwest team, having reportedly lined up a 10-day deal with Utah. However, the Jazz decided to sign Denzel Valentine instead after Ennis was said to be a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Presumably, the Nuggets are confident that Ennis will clear the testing process.

Ennis has already played for two other teams this season, having signed 10-day contracts with both the Nets and the Clippers. The 31-year-old averaged 6.3 PPG and 2.5 RPG in four games (10.5 MPG) with those two teams. Last season in Orlando, he recorded 8.4 PPG and 4.0 RPG on .473/.433/.805 shooting in 41 games (24.0 MPG).

Injury Notes: Nuggets, Gay, Claxton, Adebayo

Nuggets guard Austin Rivers says forward Michael Porter Jr. was playing through back pain the entire season before being sidelined due to the issue, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

He’s 23 years old,” Rivers said following Monday night’s loss to Dallas. “He’s just gotta take care of himself and get himself right physically and that way mentally he can come to the court playing the way that we know he can play. He’s playing hurt this whole season. It’s hard to do that. Hopefully he comes back soon because he’s a huge part of our team.”

Singer notes that the back problems could explain Porter Jr.’s slow start to the season. The Nuggets have been vague on updating MPJ’s status after saying he’ll be out for the “foreseeable future.”

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • In a separate article, Singer writes that Nuggets guard Monte Morris has been playing through a nagging leg injury this season, but Morris says it’s finally starting to improve. “Today was the first time I was able to do (player development) probably since the second Memphis game (on Nov. 3), so I haven’t even been able to do that,” Morris said. “I’ve been getting treatment and just playing in games. I’m starting to feel better. Been able to play without pain and stuff like that.” Singer also notes that Will Barton, who’s been dealing with back soreness, has been improving, but is listed is doubtful for Thursday’s game, while Zeke Nnaji is out with a sprained ankle.
  • Rudy Gay could make his season debut Thursday for the Jazz. The team listed him as probable on its injury report tonight (Twitter link). Gay has been recovering from offseason heel surgery.
  • It doesn’t sound like Nicolas Claxton will be returning to the Nets‘ lineup anytime soon, tweets Brian Lewis of the New York Post. According to Lewis, coach Steve Nash said that, “Nic (Claxton) has a ways to go. He’s really got to work on his conditioning.” Claxton had been dealing with a non-COVID illness.
  • Heat star Bam Adebayo is getting a night off for injury maintenance on a bruised knee, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Per Chiang, coach Erik Spoelstra says that it will be “really beneficial” for Bam to get rest and treatment in order to reduce swelling in the knee.

Eastern Notes: Vucevic, Haslem, Cavaliers, Barton, Bulls

Bulls star center Nikola Vucevic is “totally fine” with accepting a reduced offensive role — so long as the team continues to win, Sam Smith of NBA.com writes. Vucevic is averaging just 13.8 points per game on 14.1 shots attempted this season, down from 24.5 points on 20.6 shots with the Magic last year.

“Obviously, my role is a little different than what I had offensively last year when I came here than with Orlando,” Vucevic said as part of a larger quote. “There’s more talent and more guys who can score. So it’s a little different offensively for me.

“So I just try to do different things, passing, defensively rebounding; there are many ways you can impact the game, screening and doing other things that I can to help the team. When you have so much talent around you, you have to adjust, a little bit change your game and play a different way. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”

The Bulls have opened the season at 6-2, good for the third-best record in the East and fifth-best in the league. The franchise is motivated to return to the playoffs this season after missing the tournament four straight years.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • Heat veteran Udonis Haslem envisions having an ownership stake in the franchise one day, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Haslem has won three championships with the team, playing 861 regular-season and 147 playoff games over the course of his 19-year career. “Even with so much going on in my life, this organization would be a top priority, a major priority for me,” Haslem said as part of a larger quote. “There’s no way I can be a part of this and not focus on moving the needle. I think everything that I’ve been about these last couple of years has been focused on moving the needle, has been from a position of ‘How can I impact winning without playing?’ Well, you see how I impact winning without being on the court.”
  • The Cavaliers are brimming with confidence to start the season, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. The team is coming off a hard-fought victory against the Raptors, winning 102-101 on the road. “There’s something special brewing in that locker room,” said head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who’s guided the team to a 6-4 record thus far. “Everybody wants to be a part of it.”
  • The Bulls promised to draft Nuggets guard Will Barton with the No. 29 pick in 2012, the veteran told Mike Singer of the Denver Post (podcast link). Chicago ultimately drafted Marquis Teague, while Barton was selected at No. 40 by Portland. “It created a monster,” Barton said.

Nuggets Notes: Barton, Bol, Porter, Gordon

Nuggets swingman Will Barton has fully recovered from the hamstring injury that forced him to miss most of the playoffs and he’s looking forward to the start of training camp, writes Eric Spyropoulous of NBA.com. Entering his 10th season, Barton is the longest-tenured player on Denver’s roster. It appeared he might be headed elsewhere when he declined a $14.7MM player option this summer, but he wound up re-signing for two years at $32MM.

“This is the best I’ve felt going into a season in two years,” Barton said. “So, I feel like I’m rejuvenated really. I got to really work on my game this offseason, I didn’t get to do that last year.”

During last year’s shortened offseason, Barton was immobilized by an injured right knee and said he had to step away from the game to avoid getting depressed. This year, he immersed himself in basketball and spent a lot of time studying opponents on film when he wasn’t in the gym.

“I’m so excited man. I haven’t been this excited in a while just to be feeling good, knowing I put the work in, knowing I got a lot of work in and got better,” Barton said. “We have a good team. Like I said, we have a lot of good guys and a lot of good talent.”

There’s more from Denver:

  • The Nuggets’ status as a contender has limited the opportunities for Bol Bol, but he may be ready for a breakthrough as he heads into his third season, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Bol stands 7’3″ but has the skills of a smaller player. That can be an asset on offense, but it’s often a liability on defense as his height and thin frame make it difficult for him to guard either inside or on the perimeter. With a compressed schedule last season, Denver rarely was able to practice, which left little time to experiment with the best ways to use Bol. “Our first three years, we were developing, and young guys were given the opportunity to play, and more importantly, play through all their mistakes,” coach Michael Malone said. “Well, Bol doesn’t have that option, man. It’s all trying to be homecourt advantage in the playoffs.”
  • The clock is ticking for Michael Porter Jr. to get a contract extension before the season starts, but he’s not fretting about the outcome, Singer adds in a separate story. Porter said he trusts agent Mark Bartelstein to act in his best interests. “I love basketball,” he said. “It’s not too stressful for me about the money stuff. Of course that’s part of it. I’m just trying to stay in the gym and get better.”
  • The Nuggets saw enough from Aaron Gordon in his two and a half months with the team to be comfortable giving him a four-year extension, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said on a podcast with Singer and Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Connelly said the team was particularly impressed by Gordon’s ability to adapt to a new role after being acquired at the trade deadline.

How Players Who Declined Options Fared In Free Agency

Of the 16 veterans who had player options on their contracts for the 2021/22 season, seven picked up those options, forgoing free agency for another year of security. However, that leaves nine players who opted out and reached the free agent market.

For some players, that decision was an easy one. For instance, Norman Powell was long believed to be in line for a multiyear deal in the range of $15-20MM per year, so exercising his $11.6MM player option never would’ve made any sense.

The decision wasn’t so easy for every player who opted out though. Now that we’re five weeks into free agency, we want to look back on those decisions to see if they paid off for the nine players who opted out.

Let’s dive in…


The biggest wins:

  • Kawhi Leonard
    • Option: $36,016,200 (Clippers)
    • New contract: Four years, $176,265,152 (Clippers)
  • Norman Powell
    • Option: $11,615,328 (Trail Blazers)
    • New contract: Five years, $90,000,000 (Trail Blazers)
  • Spencer Dinwiddie
    • Option: $12,302,496 (Nets)
    • New contract: Three years, $54,000,000 (Wizards)
      • Note: Deal includes $8MM in incentives; third year partially guaranteed.

Leonard, Powell, and Dinwiddie all secured raises for the 2021/22 season and increased their overall guarantees exponentially. Leonard tacked on an extra $140MM in guaranteed money, while Powell’s new overall guarantee is nearly eight times more than his option salary.

Dinwiddie’s new contract isn’t quite as favorable as the other two, but it’s still a major win for a player who missed nearly the entire 2020/21 season due to an ACL tear. Even in a worst-case scenario, Dinwiddie will earn $45MM in guaranteed money. He can ensure his third-year salary becomes fully guaranteed by appearing in at least 50 games in each of the next two seasons, and he has the ability to earn even more in incentives.

A solid win:

  • Chris Paul
    • Option: $44,211,146 (Suns)
    • New contract: Four years, $120,000,000 (Suns)
      • Note: Deal includes $75MM in guaranteed money. Third year is partially guaranteed; fourth year is non-guaranteed.

If you want to move Paul to the “biggest wins” group, I wouldn’t argue with that. After all, he increased his overall guarantee by more than $30MM, which is no small feat for a player hitting free agency at age 36.

I’m separating him into his own group because his 2021/22 salary was reduced by more than $13MM as part of his new deal, and I think it’s possible he could’ve gotten more than $30MM in guaranteed money on his next deal if he had simply picked up his option and hit free agency next year.

I certainly don’t blame him for going this route though, given his injury history. And if he continues to play at a high level, the Suns will probably want to keep him for the third year of the deal, which would increase his overall guarantee on this contract to $90MM.

Minor wins:

  • Will Barton
    • Option: $14,669,642 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $30,000,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $2MM in incentives.
  • JaMychal Green
    • Option: $7,559,748 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $16,400,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $400K in incentives.
  • Bobby Portis
    • Option: $3,804,150 (Bucks)
    • New contract: Two years, $8,912,580 (Bucks)
  • Bryn Forbes
    • Option: $2,454,002 (Bucks)
    • New contract: One year, $4,500,000 (Spurs)

The Nuggets took a similar approach to their negotiations with Barton and Green — Denver gave each player a small raise this year, plus a second guaranteed season (Green’s second year is a player option).

The Bucks went that route with Portis too, giving him the biggest raise they could offer using his Non-Bird rights and including a second-year player option on his new deal.

You could make a case that Forbes is a big winner for nearly doubling his 2021/22 salary, but without any future years tacked onto that deal (and given the relatively small salaries involved), I’m classifying it as a modest victory.

The jury’s still out:

Hartenstein is the only one of these nine players who remains unsigned. Based on his solid play with the Cavs down the stretch, turning down his minimum-salary player option seemed like a reasonable bet at the time, but it now looks like he might’ve been better off taking the guaranteed money.

While he’ll probably be signed at some point in the coming weeks, Hartenstein isn’t a lock for a fully guaranteed deal. And even if he gets a guaranteed one-year, minimum-salary contract, it’ll be worth slightly less ($1,729,217) than the option he declined, due to the league’s minimum-salary rules.

Nuggets Notes: JaMychal Green, Jeff Green, Jones

JaMychal Green doesn’t anticipate his role changing after re-signing with the Nuggets, according to the Denver Post’s Mike Singer. Green, who signed a two-year, $17MM contract last week, says he’ll be a “glue guy” for one of the Western Conference’s top teams. Across 58 contests last season,

Green averaged 8.1 PPG and 4.8 RPG in 19.3 MPG, with a shooting line of .463/.399/.807. He averaged 5.4 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 19 MPG during the postseason.

Green added that Denver “felt like home” and he stayed in touch during free agency with Will Barton, who also re-signed with the club (Twitter links here).

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Forward Jeff Green left the Nets in unrestricted free agency and signed a two-year, $10MM deal with Denver. Green called it was an easy decision, Singer writes. “It was a no-brainer,” he said. “I felt like it could be a special season.” The journeyman added the two-year commitment played a role in his selection, saying it was a relief to “finally lock in something more than one year.”
  • Popeye Jones has officially joined Michael Malone’s staff, according to a press release. Jones’ decision to leave Philadelphia’s staff to become an assistant in Denver came to light late last month.
  • In case you missed it, Barton said he never really considered leaving the Nuggets despite opting out of his contract. Get the details here.

Barton: Return To Denver ‘Simple Decision’

When Nuggets wing Will Barton opted out of his contract for next season, it seemed like he could be headed elsewhere.

That was never the case, Barton said in his first press conference since re-signing with the Nuggets. Barton planned all along to stay put, calling it a “simple decision,” Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes.

Barton declined his $14.7MM player option in mid-July with the hopes of getting more in free agency. He received slightly more money and an added year of security, signing a two-year, $30MM contract. He’ll make $15.6MM in year one and $14.37MM in the second year, along with approximately $1MM in unlikely bonuses each season.

Barton stayed in touch with several Nuggets teammates before agreeing to the contract.

“All the guys wanted me back,” he said. “They knew I wanted to be back.”

Barton has been on the Denver roster longer than any current player and didn’t want to leave his comfort zone. The contending team was also comfortable with him being one of its rotation wings.

“I always knew the interest was mutual,” he said.

The key now is for Barton to be more of a postseason contributor. The 6’6″ wing averaged 12.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.2 APG during the regular season while shooting 42.6% from the field, 38.1% from 3-point range, and 78.5% from the free throw line. However, he only appeared in three playoff games due to a hamstring injury. During Denver’s postseason run in the Orlando bubble last summer, Barton didn’t play due to a leg injury.

“I feel like the only thing I haven’t done is perform at a high level in the playoffs, and that’s been because of basically, either injuries or not being available,” he said.

Northwest Notes: Barton, Green, Robinson-Earl, Muscala, Brown

In an Instagram video, ESPN’s Bobby Marks broke down two of the Nuggets’ contracts, clarifying that Will Barton is on a descending two-year deal, with $30MM fully guaranteed. He’ll receive $15.6MM in year one and $14.37MM in year two. Keith Smith of Spotrac adds that Barton’s deal includes $1MM in unlikely bonuses in each of the two years.

Marks also outlined Nuggets’ forward Jeff Green‘s new contract, which is a two-year, $9MM pact with $1MM in bonuses. Green will have a player option in year two, as had been previously reported. Marks notes that Green had been on minimum-salary contracts for several seasons, so this contract represents a big win for him and his agent.

We have more news from around the Northwest Division:

  • While the general terms of the Thunder’s No. 32 pick Jeremiah Robinson-Earl have been previously reported, Keith Smith provides a breakdown of the exact amount of Robinson-Earl’s four-year deal. The ex-Villanova Wildcat will receive two years at $2MM, fully guaranteed, followed by $1.9MM non-guaranteed in year three, and a non-guaranteed team option of $1.98MM in year four. OKC signed Robinson-Earl using part of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception.
  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype confirms via tweet that Mike Muscala‘s contract with the Thunder is for $7MM over two years, and adds that the second year is a team option. This will be the third straight season in OKC for the 30-year-old center
  • Scotto also clarifies the terms of Greg Brown III’s deal with the Trail Blazers. The 43rd pick, for whom the Blazers traded a 2026 second-round pick and cash considerations, will receive a three-year, $4.3MM (minimum-salary) deal, with the first two years fully guaranteed. The final year of the contract will be non-guaranteed. The signing used Portland’s mid-level exception.