As first reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post Nate Robinson has come to an agreement with the Denver Nuggets on a two year deal. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, it is shaping up to be for Denver’s bi-annual exception, which amounts to $4.03 million over two years with the second one being a player option.
Robinson was Chicago’s offensive spark-plug off the bench in the absence of Derrick Rose and levied this added responsibility into perhaps his best season as a pro. Per-36 minutes he averaged 18.5 points and 6.2 assists on 43 percent shooting from the field and (most importantly) 40.5 percent shooting from three.
The money for Robinson is fair and like J.J. Hickson it seems like the Nuggets are buying into their latest seasons as the beginning of a favorable trend and not an anomaly. However the fit in the context of the roster seems odd, as a third string point guard whose size makes him an even greater liability on defense than Ty’s does little to address the alarming lack of competent defenders on the roster.
This move is par for the course of everything else that has happened thus far in this offseason, where the front office has been collecting solid assets at fair prices who don’t seem to quite fit in the context of the team. I can’t help shake the feeling that we are all squinting at a painting up close, trying to make sense of it, and it won’t be until this offseason is over that we will be allowed to step back and take in the whole picture.
UPDATE (5:52 MST by Charlie)
David already did a great job putting the Nate Robinson signing in perspective, but now that the Nuggets’ roster is beginning to fill up we can take a look at how it affects future flexibility and what the added depth could mean for some of the incumbent players already on the roster.
Nate Robinson’s two-year deal (player option in the second year) gives the Nuggets 14 guaranteed contracts with the maximum roster size set at 15 for next season. That does not include the $3.9 million qualifying offer tendered to Timofey Mozgov, who is still a restricted free agent. Mozgov is said to be looking for a long-term contract and is rumored to be negotiating terms with Denver. Being that Mozgov has not yet received an offer sheet and few teams have the financial flexibility to offer one, his return seems likely and that would give the Nuggets a full roster, meaning any future additions to the team would have to come by way of trades or an unlikely buyout.
The most immediate effect of the Robinson signing is it hinders the Nuggets’ ability to sign second-round pick Erick Green. Denver acquired his rights in a draft day trade and just got a look at him in summer league, where he showed off his scoring prowess but struggled running the point against NBA-caliber competition. The Nuggets must offer Green the required tender before next season or they would lose his rights and he would become an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team.
Keep in mind Green does not have to accept the required tender and it’s unlikely the Nuggets would offer it without an understanding that Green would play overseas and delay his NBA debut for another year, allowing the Nuggets to retain his draft rights.
Denver could create a roster spot by waiving Quincy Miller before the season, but his strong showing in Vegas and continued development make that a nonsensical and highly unlikely move. The more likely scenario is a trade in which Denver creates a roster spot by either dumping salary or sending out more players than they receive in return, such as a two-for-one.
It is a little early to speculate on Green’s future, but his immediate path to the NBA got a bit murkier with the Nate signing. The Nuggets still have time before deciding his fate and I would expect them to find a way to keep his rights or use them as an asset in a trade. With Nate Robinson providing another competent ballhandler and three-point shooter, the Nuggets have comfortable depth at both guard spots and it appears bringing in Green for his rookie season next year is not in the cards at this time.