Every NBA off-season is full of a number of free agency signings, contract extensions, and players getting paid ridiculous amounts of money in the name of the game of basketball. This summer, unlike most years in recent history, has been detrimental to the future of The Denver Nuggets franchise. Denver has made a number of signings that on the surface can seem like simple signings but hide lots of information in the weeds.
Paul Millsap is easily the biggest signing in Nuggets free agency history. The big man from Atlanta opted out of his contract and signed with the Denver Nuggets this off-season for a whopping $90 Million dollars for 3 years. This contract includes the 3rd year of the contract that is a player option, giving Millsap the opportunity to test this environment on the young and growing Nuggets roster. The ludicrously valued contract, in my opinion, offers a great opportunity for both Millsap and the Nuggets. On Paul’s side, he is hungry for a ring. After playing seven seasons in Utah and another four years in Atlanta, one including a 60 win season, the only credential missing from Millsap’s resume is an NBA championship. The Nuggets are historically not the best destination in the NBA to chase a championship, but with the veteran leadership and elite starved rank offered by Millsap, the young core has their captain who can point them in the right direction. This is where the Nuggets franchise benefits from the large price of the contract. Millsap brings value to that empty leadership role the Nuggets have desperately needed.
Mason came into the league the same way his brothers did, a tall body that can bring height to improve any roster. Though drafted 22nd overall, he gave some good years in Brooklyn and then in Portland before being traded to Denver for Jusuf Nurkic. Denver resigned Plumlee to a 3 year $41 Million dollar deal over the offseason. The Nuggets front office has been on it in recent years in terms of making smart contract signings and good free agency signings. This streak has, in a sense, been broken by the Plumlee contract extension. Plumlee is top 5 in centers when talking about assist numbers and serves as a fine replacement to Nikola Jokic when The Joker is sitting. Plumlee shouldn’t be observed as a good addition for over $10 Million a year, yet Denver is paying him almost $14 Million a year. Not an intelligent move on Tim Connely’s side.
Harris signed one of the more controversial contracts in the NBA world very recently. Now, any self-respecting basketball fan will tell you that Gary Harris is worth the 4 years $84 Million dollar contract he was given. Any argument that I have read or personally heard about the opposition to the Gary Harris contract extension has come from a place of people who have simply not seen Harris play basketball on the professional level. Gary put up almost 15 points per game on over 50% shooting during his 3rd year in the NBA. He has shown growth in every aspect of his game since he entered the league and only displays more opportunities to advance his game. With the rising cap spaces and contract signings of the NBA, $21 Million a year is at or slightly above market value for that level of a shooting guard in the league. Since the Nuggets traded Doug McDermott for Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris in the 2014 draft, they have been dedicated to the development of Harris and now it’s time to pay him. This was a very well structured contract and makes Denver a more interesting franchise for at least 4 more years.
Jokic is set to make it big come time for his next contract. The Nuggets set the Gary Harris contract to start in the 2018 season which left Denver with enough cap space to sign Jokic to the max. If they don’t waive the rest of his rookie contract, Jokic will sign a contract similar to Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins. Jokic has been vocal about his loyalty to the Nuggets, so it is a safe bet to assume that Jokic will resign with Denver next season.