Will Barton

Wizards, Nuggets Agree To Trade Involving Morris, Barton, KCP

11:53am: The two teams are now in an agreement on the trade, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter).


9:16am: The Wizards and Nuggets are nearing an agreement on a trade that would send point guard Monte Morris and wing Will Barton to Washington in exchange for swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and point guard Ish Smith, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms the terms reported by Charania, adding (via Twitter) that the two teams are in the process of finalizing a deal.

The Wizards, who had previously been linked to Morris, will get a much-needed point guard upgrade in the trade, adding a player who was considered one of the NBA’s best backups before being thrust into a starting role last season as Jamal Murray recovered from ACL surgery.

In his first year as a full-time starter, Morris averaged 12.6 PPG, 4.4 APG, and 3.0 RPG on .484/.395/.869 shooting in 75 games (29.9 MPG). The Nuggets received calls from more than 20 teams about the 27-year-old, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Washington will also acquire Barton, a solid shooter and scorer who has averaged 14.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.3 APG with a .362 3PT% in 479 regular season games for the Nuggets since arriving in Denver in 2015.

Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. is very familiar with both players, having previously served as a Nuggets assistant.

The move reduces the likelihood of the Wizards seriously pursuing a point guard like Tyus Jones in free agency or Malcolm Brogdon via trade.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets will add a player they had been targeting since the trade deadline in Caldwell-Pope, according to Singer. Denver views Caldwell-Pope as a two-way upgrade on the wing, values his championship experience with the Lakers, and would be interested in retaining him beyond next season, Singer adds.

Caldwell-Pope, 29, averaged 13.2 PPG and made 39.0% of his three-pointers for the Wizards in 2021/22, while playing his usual strong defense.

As for Smith, he’ll provide depth at point guard for a Nuggets team that should have Murray back this fall and saw Bones Hyland enjoy a breakout season as a rookie. Assuming Smith plays in at least one game for Denver, it’ll be his 13th NBA team, breaking a league record, tweets Matt Williams of ESPN.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), if no more players are added to the four-player deal, the two teams will have to wait until after the July moratorium to make it official, since the Wizards are taking on several million more dollars than they’re sending out, while the Nuggets save a little money on next season’s payroll.

Caldwell-Pope ($14MM) and Smith ($4.73MM) entered the offseason without fully guaranteed salaries for 2022/23, but Caldwell-Pope locked in his guarantee on Tuesday and Smith is on track to receive as well in order to adhere to salary-matching rules and make the deal legal. Non-guaranteed salary doesn’t count in trades for outgoing purposes.

Caldwell-Pope, Smith, and Barton ($14.38MM) will all be on expiring contracts next season and are eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023. Morris will earn $9.13MM in ’22/23 and $9.8MM in ’23/24 before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The Nuggets will likely absorb Smith’s incoming contract using part of the $8.2MM trade exception they created in last week’s JaMychal Green trade. That would allow them to create a new larger trade exception, worth at least Morris’ outgoing salary ($9.13MM), per Marks.

Nuggets Rumors: Anunoby, Barton, Morris, Front Office

Count the Nuggets among the teams interested in trading for Raptors forward OG Anunoby, according to Matt Moore of Action Network.

I’m somewhat skeptical Denver has the necessary assets to acquire Anunoby because the Nuggets have given up two future first-round picks and four second-rounders without acquiring any extra picks of their own in win-now moves over the past few years. However, Anunoby certainly makes sense as a fit for the Nuggets, since he’s a strong, versatile defender with good size, and improves on offense every year.

League sources outside of Denver tell Moore that Nuggets guards Will Barton and Monte Morris are “believed to be available” in potential trades this summer. It’s worth noting that Barton’s $14,375,000 expiring salary in 2022/23 could theoretically work in the framework of a deal for Anunoby, who’ll make $17,357,143 in ’22/23, but the Raptors would likely ask for at least Bones Hyland and a first-round pick or two on top of Barton, assuming Toronto is even interested at all.

The Nuggets plan to aggressively build a “true contender” around back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, aided by the returns of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., says Moore. Murray missed the entire season recovering from a torn ACL, while Porter played just nine games after undergoing another back surgery.

Although Tim Connelly‘s exit to Minnesota was unexpected, Moore reports that there’s no “sense of confusion or uncertainty” within Denver’s organization, noting that general manager Calvin Booth has had more control of the team’s day-to-day operations the past couple seasons. Moore also points out that assistant GM Tommy Balcetis has been with the Nuggets since 2013, so both front office members have plenty of experience.

In case you missed it, Luke Adams published our Nuggets Offseason Preview a couple days ago, in which he wrote that Barton and Morris could be used as trade chips this summer.

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Connelly, Morris, Booth

Echoing Mike Singer’s reporting from earlier this week, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic confirm that Nikola Jokic remains fully committed to the Nuggets and intends to sign a five-year, super-max extension this offseason.

According to The Athletic’s duo, Jokic’s brothers Strahinja and Nemanja have met with general manager Calvin Booth and assistant GM Tommy Balcetis in the days since Tim Connelly‘s departure to discuss the team’s future, while Booth and head coach Michael Malone have spoken on the phone to Jokic, who is in Serbia. Everyone is in the same page going forward, per Charania and Amick.

As the Nuggets continue to build around Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr., the focus for Booth and the new-look front office this offseason will be to add long, versatile, defensive-minded players, sources tell The Athletic.

The team will be open to surrendering more of its draft assets if that helps open up favorable opportunities to acquire win-now talent, according to Charania and Amick, since the goal is to compete for a championship and make the most of Jokic’s prime years.

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • The Timberwolves’ willingness to include equity in their offer to Connelly was viewed by the Nuggets as an obstacle they couldn’t overcome, say Charania and Amick. In addition to the Nuggets, the Kroenkes own franchises in other sports – including the NFL’s Rams and the NHL’s Avalanche – and had no interest in setting a new precedent on equity that might affect future negotiations with team executives.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a close look at the Nuggets’ situation going forward, wondering if the team will be open to trading Will Barton and/or Monte Morris this offseason. Hollinger suggests Morris could be more expendable due to Murray’s return and Bones Hyland‘s emergence.
  • Within his story, Hollinger notes that Connelly’s salary during his last season in Denver put him in the bottom half of the NBA’s lead basketball executives and suggests that the Nuggets have a history of investing minimally in their basketball operations department and organizational infrastructure.
  • Mike Singer of The Denver Post takes a closer look at what Calvin Booth will bring to the Nuggets’ head of basketball operations job, speaking to several people who have worked with him over the years. One source told Singer that Booth is more “structured” than Connelly and predicted he’ll have a lower tolerance for “locker room headaches.”

Northwest Notes: Favors, Barton, McLemore, Gobert, Mitchell

At age 30, Derrick Favors may seem out of place on a rebuilding team, but he said spending this season with the Thunder helped him enjoy the game again, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Favors, who was acquired from the Jazz in a salary dump trade last summer, only played 39 games and sat out the final month of the season with back soreness, but he still says the experience was important.

“It brought back that fun,” Favors said, “that joy of playing basketball and not worrying about the business part, not worrying about personal life stuff, just having fun and … feeling that energy of being around 19-, 20-, 21-year-olds.”

Favors has already indicated that he will pick up his option for next season, which is worth $10.18MM, much more than he would make in free agency. However, that doesn’t guarantee he’ll back. Mussatto expects Oklahoma City to explore a trade this summer and possibly waive Favors to open a roster spot for one of its four picks in this year’s draft. However, Favors said at his exit interview that he “expects to be back.”

“I’m glad I’m here,” he said. “It opened my eyes to a lot of things. I just enjoy watching these young guys. I enjoy watching them come out and improve every game. I enjoy talking to (coach) Mark (Daigneault), and I enjoy being in this atmosphere.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets might have to consider trading Will Barton this offseason to help upgrade their defense, suggests Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Barton, who has spent eight years with the team, has an expiring $14MM contract for next season and Denver may need a stronger defensive guard to pair with Jamal Murray as he returns from his ACL injury. Singer identifies Monte Morris and JaMychal Green as other players who might be moved.
  • The Trail Blazers could be tempted to re-sign Ben McLemore to serve as a veteran shooter, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. McLemore averaged 10.2 points per game and connected at 36.2% from three-point range after signing with Portland last offseason, and he can provide valuable roster depth for a team that hopes to bounce back next season.
  • It’s time for the Jazz to break up the combination of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, argues Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports, who examines the potential trade market for each player.

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Offseason, Future

Nuggets backup center DeMarcus Cousins was highly productive in the team’s first-round loss to Golden State, carving out a niche on Denver’s bench, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

DeMarcus, to be playing 10 minutes a game and to be having the productivity that he’s had, and the efficiency that he’s had, is really remarkable,” said head coach Michael Malone. “And I told him after the game (Game 4), you know, everybody wants to play more, but it’s important for DeMarcus to know the impact he’s having is real.”

In the five-game series, Cousins averaged 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists in just 11.4 minutes per night, sporting a blistering shooting line of .655/.667/.733. He scored 19 points in 15 minutes during Denver’s 102-98 Game 5 defeat on Wednesday.

He gives us a calming influence, somebody that we can — instead of trying to go up and down, go crazy — settle down, play inside-out basketball,” Malone said. “He’s gotten JaMychal Green layups and dunks at the rim, he’s kicked out for open threes, and then the last part of it, now you can step out on the perimeter and play pick-and-roll with Bones Hyland. We know DeMarcus sets really good, physical screens, and he gets guys open.”

Cousins is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he says he’s not sure if he’ll be back with the Nuggets next season, per Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com.

I honestly don’t know what the future holds,” Cousins said. “A lot in this short time has transpired. I’m still trying to get over the fact that G.P. (Gary Payton II) hit that big shot, right? I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity. I’m happy to be a part of this group. I’m happy with the opportunity that was given to me from Mike [Malone], [president] Tim [Connelly], [general manager Calvin] Booth. To answer that question, I can’t right now. I don’t know what’s future holds.”

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Count Will Barton and Monte Morris among the teammates who hope Cousins is brought back for 2022/23, Kennedy writes in the same article. “Anytime you have a guy like that, you always want him back,” Barton said. “Like I say, he’s still DeMarcus Cousins — a guy who, when he’s healthy, is a very good player. Those are not my decisions; I’m not in management. Obviously, if I have a voice in the fight, I definitely would love to have him back. He was big for us on and off the court, [a] presence in the locker room. We’ll see what happens.” Morris echoed that sentiment: “Signing Boogie, man… I love him to death. A guy that would pick up 19 points in a do-or-die elimination game just shows how much heart he has, how much love he has for the game. I’m definitely proud of him… He’s a great guy.”
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan explore Denver’s roster possibilities in their offseason guides.
  • Malone is optimistic about what Denver’s future holds despite the team’s first-round exit, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “The future’s definitely bright,” Malone said. “I think we also have to understand that Jamal Murray to start the season next year is not going to be the Jamal Murray [we know] right away. I think it’s going to be a buildup, him getting comfortable and confident out there.”
  • Warriors forward/center Draymond Green was effusive in his praise of Nikola Jokic after Game 5, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to play against someone so talented and so skilled,” Green said of Jokic. “Usually when you have a guy that’s that talented and that skilled, they’re a little soft. He’s far, far from soft. He’s an absolutely incredible player.”
  • In case you missed it, Jokic said if the Nuggets offer him a five-year, super-max extension this offseason, he plans to accept it.

Northwest Notes: Vanderbilt, Murray, Barton, Alexander-Walker

Jarred Vanderbilt played 25 minutes on Wednesday, but the Timberwolves forward is still bothered by a left quad contusion, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune tweets. Head coach Chris Finch said Vanderbilt, who is listed as questionable to play on Saturday, is closer to 70% than 100% and he’ll remain on a minutes restriction.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jamal Murray‘s practice with the G League Grand Rapids included some live work but he still must overcome some hurdles before he makes his season debut, coach Michael Malone told Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). The Nuggets guard was assigned to Grand Rapids early this week and is expected to report back to the NBA team on Saturday.
  • Nuggets swingman Will Barton has missed opportunities to play in the postseason due to injuries and he’s hopeful that will change next month, Singer writes“That’s really all my focus is on is just staying healthy, trying to play good basketball and getting ready for the playoffs – something I’ve been looking forward to my whole career,” he said. “And I haven’t been able to be in there healthy. Now I have the chance if everything keeps going well.” Barton, who is signed through next season, is averaging 14.7, 4.9 RPG and a career-best 3.8 APG.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker has looked sharp while getting extended playing time this week, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. Alexander-Walker had 13 points and five assists against the Clippers on Friday after a 16-point outing against Chicago. The Jazz also believe Alexander-Walker, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, can be a defensive factor off the bench.

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Malone, Barton, Gordon, Jokic

DeMarcus Cousins had a stellar game on Friday night for the Nuggets, putting up a season-high 31 points on 14 shots in just 24 minutes of action. Cousins also contributed nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in the team’s 116-101 win over the Rockets. Cousins started in place of reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, who was out with a non-COVID illness, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post relays.

Cousins said he was released by the Bucks earlier in the season due to a calf strain, giving Denver the opportunity to pick him up. Coach Michael Malone says he’s never lost faith in Cousins, even if others have. “Most people had given up on him,” Malone said after Friday’s game. “All you need is somebody to believe in you.”

Malone said Cousins lost eight-to-10 pounds after arriving in Denver, per Singer. Malone also said Cousins’ strong recent play could help lessen the load on Jokic, who’s having another MVP-caliber season. “He keeps on playing like this … you don’t have to run Nikola into the ground,” said Malone, who suggested the Nuggets might have the best center tandem in the NBA.

It’s very satisfying,” said Cousins when asked what it’s meant to him to take advantage of his latest stop. “It’s even a better feeling to have a coach that believes in you, an organization that believes in you.”

Here’s more from Denver:

  • Advice from his basketball idol Kobe Bryant helped Will Barton become the Nuggets’ all-time leader in three-point field goals, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. “Kobe told me, ‘If you get a jump shot, you’re going to be deadly,'” Barton said. “Once he told me I had talent and all I had to do was work on my jumper, it further solidified what I already thought about myself.” The former second-round pick struggled with his shot early in his career, but transformed himself into a solid marksman over the past eight seasons with Denver, making 36% of his 3-pointers. Barton set the franchise mark with his 769th trey in the team’s win over the Rockets on Friday, breaking a record held by J.R. Smith.
  • Aaron Gordon has developed impressive chemistry with Jokic, writes Singer in a separate article for The Denver Post. “Jok’s IQ is through the roof,” Gordon said. “He’s a basketball savant. Just genius. It’s great talking to him, understanding how he sees the game. How we can make it easier for him and where he needs us to be.” Gordon is taking advantage of Jokic’s elite passing by making smart cuts to the basket, leading to a career-best 51.7% from the field, including 60.6% on two-pointers. Gordon told Singer that he’s “seeing the game differently.” “Just angles,” he said. “Attacking angles. Making reads. I finally feel like I’m making better reads.”
  • Jokic gave a typically self-effacing reply regarding his conversations with Gordon, Singer relays in the same piece. “I don’t know the right answer,” said Jokic. “I’m just trying to help him. … I’m just telling him what I know. If that helps him, or not, I don’t know. I’m just trying to tell him what I see.” Singer notes that a quarter of Jokic’s assists this season have gone to Gordon, the highest mark on the team.

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).