The Denver Nuggets Have a Busy Summer Ahead

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Nikola Jokic’s agent fired the opening shot in contract extension negotiations this week.He cautioned Denver against picking up the team option this season for Nikola, declaring that letting him hit unrestricted next season would not favor the Nuggets. Things that seem unimportant to Denver, like the hiring of Utah assistant Igor Kosokov in Phoenix, could loom large if Jokic hits the free-agent market (Kosokov is Serbian).  As long as it has taken Denver to find a legitimate MVP-level player, it is in the team’s best interest to never let Nikola’s gaze veer from Denver.  He likes it here, he’s our best player/prospect, ’nuff said.

What that means is Jokic will be making somewhere in the $27 million range for next year.  NBA players with less than six years experience are restricted to  25% of the annual cap, projected to be $108 million for 2018-19.

With Gary Harris’ contract extension set to kick in, the Nuggets are flirting with the luxury tax threshold (expected to be $121 million) without adding any additional players. They are on the hook for $13 million with Kenneth Faried.  Add an additional $20 million in cap damage if, as expected, Wilson Chandler and Darrell Arthur exercise player options for 2018-19.  That’s $33 million combined for three players that totaled zero points in the Nuggets season-ending loss to Minnesota.

Will Barton is an unrestricted free-agent and has turned down 4 years and $42 million from the Nuggets.  While everyone involved would love to see Thrill continue in a Nuggets uniform, it looks unlikely.

Denver, only a year removed from signing Roy Hibbert just to hit the salary floor, are in a fairly desperate financial situation.  With Jokic set to max and Harris’ contract kicking in, it will be all they can do to make sure they have the money to sign Murray next summer.

Adding a big name without shedding a core player isn’t in the cards for the Nuggets this year.