Will Barton

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.

Will Barton Re-Signs With Nuggets On Two-Year Deal

AUGUST 11: The signing is official, according to a team press release.


AUGUST 2: Free agent Nuggets swingman Will Barton is set to return to Denver on a two-year, $32MM deal, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Barton, 30, was originally drafted by the Trail Blazers in 2012 out of Memphis with the No. 40 pick. He has been a core role player in Denver since being sent to the Nuggets during the 2014/15 season.

The 6’6″ wing averaged 12.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.2 APG last season while shooting 42.6% from the field, 38.1% from three-point range, and 78.5% from the charity stripe. He missed most of Denver’s postseason run due to a hamstring injury.

Barton last inked a four-year, $53MM deal with Denver ahead of the 2018/19 season. Earlier this summer, he declined his $14.7MM player option for the 2021/22 season in the hopes of nabbing a pay raise and more guaranteed long-term money.

The Nuggets, led by reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray, are hoping to rebound from a disappointing 2021 playoffs, in which they were swept out of the second round by the Suns in part due to the absence of Murray, who continues to recover from a left ACL tear.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Free Agency Notes: D. Robinson, Nuggets, Vanderbilt, Hezonja

Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson has told associates that his preference is to remain with the Heat, a source tells Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Robinson is a restricted free agent and Miami wants to retain him, so he wouldn’t have had much leverage if he wanted to go to a new team, but the fact that he wants to return is good news for the Heat. They’ll be able to keep his small cap hold on their books while they address other free agent business before circling back to finalize a new deal with Robinson.

Here are a few more updates related to free agency:

  • The Nuggets are unlikely to make any major splashes during free agency, as they’ll focus on re-signing their own free agents, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Singer views Will Barton and JaMychal Green as good bets to return to Denver, and suggests that one of Paul Millsap and JaVale McGee could be back too. If the Nuggets are only able to re-sign one of Green, Millsap, and McGee, they’ll shop for another big man on the open market, according to Singer, who notes that Green’s market is expected to be in the $7-9MM range — a previous report stated a $16MM-per-year deal is a possibility for Barton.
  • The Timberwolves had discussions with forward Jarred Vanderbilt about a possible contract extension, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, but those talks went nowhere. Minnesota tendered Vanderbilt a qualifying offer, so the team will have the ability to match any offer he gets as a restricted free agent.
  • Former fifth overall pick Mario Hezonja, who played for Panathinaikos in Greece last season, won’t be returning to the NBA this offseason. As Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando relays, Russian club UNICS Kazan has signed Hezonja to a one-year contract with an option for a second season.

Fischer’s Latest: Bulls, Ball, Pelicans, Hornets, Lakers, Schröder, Knicks, More

While it’s possible the Bulls will sign restricted free agent point guard Lonzo Ball to an offer sheet in the four-year, $80MM range, doing so would be a risk, since the Pelicans could match that offer and leave Chicago empty-handed. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, a possible three-team deal involving the Bulls, Pelicans, and Hornets could eliminate that risk and ensure Ball lands in Chicago.

The structure – which John Hollinger of The Athletic alluded to earlier today and which has seemingly gained traction, per Fischer – would see Ball going to the Bulls, Devonte’ Graham to the Pelicans, and Tomas Satoransky, Josh Hart, and draft assets to the Hornets.

Fischer cautions that this is only one idea in play and that things should become clearer once free agency opens. A sign-and-trade that only involves the Bulls and Pelicans – with Satoransky going to New Orleans – is also a possibility, he adds.

Here’s more from Fischer’s latest rumor roundup:

  • The Lakers haven’t given up on the possibility of acquiring Buddy Hield from the Kings, but they don’t appear to be working closely with Dennis Schröder‘s camp on a possible sign-and-trade arrangement, per Fischer.
  • The Knicks and Wizards are still considered possibilities for Schröder, according to Fischer. The veteran point guard is also believed to be one of the Bulls‘ targets if they can’t land Ball, Fischer notes, writing that Chicago has done its homework on DeMar DeRozan and Richaun Holmes as well.
  • The Knicks are widely believed to be a frontrunner to sign Evan Fournier, perhaps for a three-year deal worth about $18MM annually, Fischer reports. Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel are also strong candidates to re-sign with New York for deals worth about $10MM per year, Fischer adds.
  • Will Barton appears likely to return to the Nuggets, according to Fischer, who says a two-year, $32MM+ contract is a real possibility.
  • Cameron Payne is considered a good bet to re-sign with the Suns for a deal in the $6MM-per-year range, says Fischer.

Hollinger’s Latest: CP3, Knicks, Fournier, Bulls, Rose, Pacers, More

There was talk last week that the Pelicans would be a serious suitor for Chris Paul in free agency, but that chatter seems to have faded, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says the veteran point guard is now widely expected to re-sign with the Suns.

As Hollinger explains, he heard the Suns’ initial offer to Paul when the two sides were discussing a possible extension was somewhat “underwhelming,” but the club now appears prepared to offer a more serious package. No one around the league will be surprised if the total value of Paul’s new deal gets up to $100MM or more, Hollinger adds.

Here are several more free agent rumors from Hollinger:

  • Amidst rumors that Evan Fournier‘s price tag may be too high for the Celtics‘ liking, Hollinger suggests that the Knicks may be the team preparing to make an aggressive offer to the free agent wing. Hollinger adds that it’s worth keeping an eye on Mitchell Robinson and the Knicks, since a renegotiate-and-extend deal is a possibility for the two sides. That sort of agreement would give Robinson a raise for 2021/22 and lock him up for multiple seasons.
  • If the Bulls don’t land Lonzo Ball, one of their backup plans may be offering Derrick Rose a deal in the neighborhood of $12MM per year, says Hollinger.
  • Hollinger’s sources expect T.J. McConnell to stick with the Pacers for a deal worth around – or slightly above – the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.9MM), but the competition for Doug McDermott will be fiercer and Indiana will face tax issues if the team wants to re-sign both players without trimming salary elsewhere.
  • If Richaun Holmes‘ presumed suitors – such as Charlotte and Toronto – end up using their cap room in other ways, he might be squeezed in free agency, allowing the Kings to re-sign him despite only holding his Early Bird rights. If that scenario plays out, Hollinger expects Holmes to sign a two-year deal with a player option so that he can hit the open market again in 2022 with full Bird rights.
  • There hasn’t been much free agent chatter surrounding Nuggets guard Will Barton or Trail Blazers Norman Powell, according to Hollinger, who writes that teams seems to be assuming those two players will remain with their respective clubs.
  • It has been tricky to figure out what the Spurs plan to do with their projected cap room, says Hollinger. Daniel Theis is the most prominent free agent target Hollinger has heard linked to San Antonio.

Pacers Rumors: Turner, Lamb, Brogdon, Ball, FAs

Plenty of trade speculation has swirled around the Pacers heading into the 2021 offseason, but a league source tells J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required) that a “seismic” change to Indiana’s roster is unlikely.

One player whose name has popped up frequently in trade rumors during the last year or two is Myles Turner, and teams haven’t slowed their efforts to land the rim-protecting big man. According to Michael, the Knicks have gotten more aggressive lately in their pursuit of Turner — they aren’t the only club trying to trade for Turner, but they appear to be making the strongest push as of late, Michael says.

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • With lottery pick Chris Duarte expected to step into a role on the wing, the Pacers are interested in moving Jeremy Lamb, reports Michael. Lamb, who was limited to 36 games last season due to injuries, is on a $10.5MM expiring contract.
  • The Pacers have had discussions about whether Malcolm Brogdon is the answer at point guard, according to Michael, who writes that the team also talked about possibly pursuing Lonzo Ball. However, Ball doesn’t seem to be a serious option for Indiana at this point, Michael adds.
  • T.J. McConnell and Doug McDermott both have interest in returning to the Pacers, but McConnell wants security (ie. a multiyear deal) and McDermott may get too pricey for the team. As he’s previously reported, Michael notes that McConnell is more likely than McDermott to re-sign with the Pacers.
  • Michael points to Avery Bradley, Lou Williams, Will Barton, and Garrett Temple as some free agents who may appeal to Indiana.