Beat writer Mike Singer opens up the Nuggets Mailbag periodically during the offseason. Pose a Nuggets — or NBA — related question here.
If there are any trades or offseason acquisitions, what would they look like? Who would be involved in the deal? Do you see any free-agents coming to Denver?
— Korbin, Castle Rock
To begin, the Nuggets aren’t going to have much cap room, if any at all. That depends on what JaMychal Green ($7.5 million) and Will Barton ($14.6 million) decide to do with their player options. They should have access to their midlevel exception, which is worth $9.5 million annually. If I’m Nuggets executive Tim Connelly and I decide to spend that money in my backcourt, the free-agent names I’d consider are Derrick Rose ($7.6 million last season), Patty Mills ($12 million), Ish Smith ($6 million) and Wayne Ellington ($2.5 million). The reason the Nuggets may look to spend in the frontcourt, however, is because of P.J. Dozier, who missed the whole postseason with an adductor injury. If Dozier’s healthy, he might be in the starting lineup next season as the team waits out Jamal Murray’s return.
Free agents Paul Millsap, JaVale McGee and the aforementioned Green could leave the Nuggets extremely thin in the frontcourt. In that event, the Nuggets might bolster their bench with a guy like Reggie Bullock ($4.2 million last season), who can hit from outside, or a veteran like Jeff Green ($2.5 million). The problem with any potential forward options, though, is they’d inhibit the growth of Zeke Nnaji. Ultimately, if the Nuggets decide they don’t want to play small in their second unit, Denver’s biggest need might come at center. If McGee walks, there’s one name I’d keep an eye on: Boban Marjanovic, close friend of Nikola Jokic.
I would love to know about the organizational outlook for Aaron Gordon and P.J. Dozier. Gordon seems like a perfect addition to a team with ample scoring and ball handlers, but seems mismatched without Murray’s presence. With Murray missing all of next year’s regular season, and Gordon on an expiring contract, is there consideration of flipping Gordon for a different asset? Dozier seems to have the potential to be a starting guard or valuable rotational piece, particularly in the playoffs when matching up with the slew of exceptional scoring guards in the West. One good year and he could get very expensive, though. Is there any organizational consideration to trying to sign him to a multi-year extension despite the ability to have him play for cheap in 2021-2022?
— Andrew, Littleton
First off, I wouldn’t assume Murray would miss all of next regular season. The tentative timetable for him was 10-to-12 months after his April 12 ACL tear. If he’s able to return in February, Gordon would slot back in his role as the Nuggets’ fourth or fifth offensive option, which is what they had in mind when they traded for him in the first place. For two weeks before Murray got hurt, it was bliss. Just because the playoffs didn’t go how Gordon wanted them doesn’t mean you cut bait.
I can’t speak to wanting to extend Dozier now, but I agree with you that he’s an integral part of how they’ll bridge the gap heading into next season. With Facu Campazzo, the Nuggets lacked size and defensive versatility. Guards Shaq Harrison and Markus Howard each had significant holes in their games as well. Before his injury, Dozier was a steady two-way player who had untapped potential and was a favorite of Michael Malone. I expect him to play a significant role, and possibly even a starting one, next season.
If Michael Porter Jr. doesn’t improve his ball-handling, should the Nuggets trade him for Bradley Beal? Should MPJ get a max contract this offseason?
— Peter Stewenbour, Los Angeles
Porter has holes in his game. His ball-handling is suspect and his defense leaves plenty to be desired. But as he said in his end-of-year news conference, he’s also heading into his first fully healthy offseason and seemed eager to refine certain aspects of his game. To me, it would’ve been easier to stomach a trade *before* he blew up this season into one of the most efficient scorers in the league. The Nuggets tend to practice patience more than most teams, and in two seasons, Porter has rewarded that restraint. He’s also still got one year left on his rookie deal, so, significantly cheaper than Beal. Plus, is there a benefit to having Porter grow with Nikola Jokic next season before Murray returns? Would elevating him in the offense help expedite his growth? He is far from a finished product, but will likely warrant a max deal (or close to it) either this summer or next. If the Nuggets pay him, expect them to include some form of protection to guard against his injuries.
Is there any way the Nuggets sign Michael Porter Jr. to a deal similar to what the 76ers gave Joel Embiid coming off his injury issues?
— Tony Wright Jr., Hinesville Ga.
See above. After canvassing opinions among various agents and league insiders, I’d expect the Nuggets to include some sort of insurance against future injuries.
I have been watching the Nuggets since they were the Denver Rockets and I base my comments on that experience. Coach Michael Malone does a lot of things right, but he does not have his team’s back. I have seen Nikola Jokic not get the same whistle that the Suns starters get. He doesn’t even get the same whistle that Cam Payne gets. Meanwhile, Malone sits on his hands and does nothing to change the officiating. This results in Jokic getting called for a flagrant 2 when it shouldn’t have even been a flagrant 1. Only a Serbian MVP would be called for flagrant 2 in this case and altar boy Malone sits on his hands, giving up on his team. Similarly, I have watched Chris Paul hit mid-range jumper time and time again going to his right and does not see any Nugget defender shading him to stop that. That is a failure in coaching. He has managed to coach up MPJ so he plays like he is 6-foot-5.
— Shawn Thompson, Denver
I’ve never heard an altar boy use the kind of language Malone uses, and I have seen him get techs while fighting for his star. Part of me feels like your inquiry is reactionary in the wake of that, um, questionable ejection in Game 4 against Phoenix. There’s a fine line between fighting for your star and advocating to officials and complaining about said discrepancies in the media. Malone didn’t quite jump the line, but he definitely toed it, in my opinion. There’s only so much he can do. I’ve seen him argue with officials, he’s admitted to reaching out to the NBA on Jokic’s behalf and he’s pled his case during news conferences. Perhaps Jokic gets a better whistle now that he’s the MVP.
To your second question about stopping Paul, had Malone played Shaq Harrison more, you’re then conceding offense. If you ask Jokic to play up on the screens, you’re assuming he has unlimited energy for both ends of the floor. The only adjustment he could’ve made earlier in the series was to try JaVale McGee, who’s more mobile than Jokic in those screen-and-rolls. I’m not sure it would’ve made a difference.h2 data-curated-ids="" data-relation-type="automatic-primary-tag"">
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How were the Suns able to get so many wide open – and I mean wide-open – 3-point shots? There were several times that the shooter had no one within 10-15 feet of him. Is this just a product of excellent ball movement? Or was it also a flaw in the Nuggets’ defensive scheme?
— Kris Hudson, Grand Prairie, TX
What the Suns just did to the Nuggets was a ruthless execution of precision basketball. They ran screens to free up Paul, which caused so much defensive chaos that when the Nuggets actually had him accounted for, they’d forgotten about Phoenix’s other snipers. Paul would command all the defense’s attention and then swing the ball to Mikal Bridges or Jae Crowder or Devin Booker, and their shooters would be wide open, as you noticed. I don’t know if it was a flaw in the defensive scheme as much as it was Phoenix taking advantage of Denver’s personnel and then burying their 3-point looks. The Suns shot over 42% from 3-point range in the series. That is a ridiculous, insurmountable clip.
Will she ever love me the way I love her?
— Connor Hein, Denver
Sources say you’re in luck, my man.
Source : https://www.denverpost.com/2021/06/19/nuggets-mailbag-tim-connelly-offseason-options/1710