Nuggets sign Harris, buy out Nurkic, and reportedly close in on signing Mike Miller

In the wake of the excitement and bustle of draft day, the Nuggets offseason quieted to a calm, standing in stark contrast to the frenetic rumor mill whirling around the league’s superstars.

But Denver finally got its first flurry of activity over the last day, as they finalized a contract with first round draft pick Gary Harris, cleared the way to doing the same with Jusuf Nurkic by buying out the contract of his Croatian team, and, if “sources” are to be believed, closed in on a deal to sign veteran small forward Mike Miller.

Here are the latest Nuggets offseason updates:

  • Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post reported yesterday on Twitter that the Nuggets had signed Gary Harris in time for him to make their Summer League roster. Harris’ signing was never in question, but he now officially is Denver’s third string shooting guard behind Arron Afflalo and Randy Foye. And although he may struggle to crack the regular season rotation, his participation in the Summer League will give Nuggets fans a great opportunity to see him in his first pro appearances.
  • Jusuf Nurkic’s Croatian team KK Cedevita posted an announcement (Google Translate version) on their website that the Nuggets’ new 19-year-old big man will indeed be Nuggets-bound this season. Rumors of complications in Denver buying out Nurkic’s contract had created some confusion as to whether the Nuggets could procure him for 2014-15, but in the end Chris Dempsey’s report that the buyout wouldn’t be a problem proved to be correct. David Pick of confirmed the buyout on Twitter, adding that the cost would be split over two seasons. And while it appears that it’s now too late for Nurkic to join Denver’s Summer League team, the Nuggets will be happy to begin working on his development immediately, which was their intention from the start.
  • Chris Broussard rumor reports often go down best with large grains of salt, but he seemed highly confident in tweeting, “[Mike] Miller is getting close to agreeing to terms with Denver, source says.” Prior to that, Adrian Wojnarowski had tweeted that the competition among the Grizzlies, Thunder, Cavs, and Nuggets for Miller was driving his price tag up to the $4-4.5 million range. If both these reports proved accurate and converged on the Nuggets signing Miller for $4.5 million per year, you can count me squarely amongst those who think such a move would be a really, really bad idea. And for a more in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of Denver bringing Miller on board, check out Charlie’s breakdown here.

After signing Nurkic, and if the Nuggets end up guaranteeing Quincy Miller’s contract, Denver will be a little more than $4.3 million under the luxury tax threshold before signing Miller. Presumably, part of their negotiations with Miller include landing on a price that does not push them over the luxury limit. But using their last open roster spot to max out their payroll by giving a Hickson 2.0 “Win now!” contract to a 14-year, oft-injured veteran who clearly doesn’t figure into their future seems exceedingly self-defeating when considering the long term. I for one would much rather see that final roster spot go to trying to develop Erick Green on a non-guaranteed contract, or to an experienced player for no more than the veteran’s minimum salary.

Regardless, it appears that we are rapidly approaching the tipping point of free agency, when the the big names decide, the flood gates break open, and the mad rush of signings begins. We should have our answer to the Mike Miller question soon.

As always, keep it dialed in right here at Roundball Mining Company for all the latest updates and analysis.

You can follow me on Twitter here: @denbutsu

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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • Nugman

    Good thing we have Shaw to coach these guys.

  • Gassen

    Why would we ever sign Mike Miller.

    • Bryan

      Obviously, so that when Love gets doubled, he can kick it out to Miller to drain 3’s.

      • Kane

        Love got a real strong arm throwing that ball from Cleveland to Denver lol

        • LBJ

          Or to an injured guy sitting behind the bench in street clothes.

        • CD Pascual

          Good one

        • Bryan

          I think they might both end up in CLE now actually.

  • JonnyB

    Great to see both 1st rounders will be in Nuggets uniforms this next season. I am excited to see what the big Euro can do in the states.

    Only sign Miller if a trade is brewing, otherwise; PASS

  • heykyleinsf

    We really need 3 point shooting. Miller has that and then some.
    It opens up our offense. I’m hoping it will be like when Corey Brewer
    was our spark when we definitely needed somebody..
    I think that a lot of people don’t appreciate what Brewer gave us,
    and how losing him affected us.
    I loved Corey. I’m hoping Miller can add what we’ve been missing since
    he left us. I also think Chandler is history.. and how could anyone see
    Miller as worse than him?
    Also awesome that we’re swinging ways to get Nurkic going.
    Is it too late for him to play in the summer league?

    • Bryan

      He’s playing for the Bosnian national team. His team won today.

      • heykyleinsf

        thank you Bryan..
        hope he’s better than Glogovak?
        that dude scored 23 and pulled down 10 boards
        our guy got 8 pts and 9 boards…

        But I’m sure we’ve got something..
        Can’t wait to see where he’s at.

        • Erlingur Grétar Einarsson

          Dude’s still only 19, and already contributing an almost-double-double to a strong national team. I have a good feeling about him.

        • Bryan

          I think he ended up with four fouls, so it looks like he was in foul trouble. I think a big key for him will be learning to play without fouling so much.

        • etlord1

          +19 in 22 minutes isn’t bad. We’ll have to be patient with him. Five years of basketball isn’t very long.

  • Ckwizard

    I don’t like the idea of Miller the player on this team even if a trade happens. I however do not really know what he brings to the team from a leadership perspective. I am all for bringing in a player who can help motivate the team the “right” way. This Nuggets team is talented but it still lacks a player that gets “it.” The Nuggets need a real “professional” on this team. AAA and Foye are close but having a player that understands “playoffs” and “championships” could be a positive. Is Miller that positive IDK.

  • Andrew

    I’m ok with signing Miller if it means they are trading Chando for something valuable. Otherwise, pass.

  • Furious_Stylez

    I’m very glad to hear Nurkic will be on the roster this season. I was a bit worried that they picked a stash player in the deepest Draft in a decade. Mozgov will be a huge help to Nurkic. He played the same type of basketball when he played in Russia and will be able to help Nurkic with the transition to the American style of basketball.

    I’m excited to see what Harris can do in summer league. I’m really hoping he can develop into a solid swing guard, something this team really needs to enhance different lineups.

    It sucks, but once again the Nuggets are the second option of a free agent. Miller has already talked with LeBron and will join him in Cleveland if he goes. I’m not a huge fan of signing Miller, but I’d be okay with it if the price is $3m or under and less than 3 seasons (like 1yr guaranteed and a team option for the second). Rumor is his agents are currently trying to drive up the price to $4m-$4.5m. Anything more than $3m per year and the deal is bad. I’d rather sign a younger guy like Xavier Henry to play backup SF and grow in the system.

  • Daniel Levine-Steele

    Maybe sign Miller to trade him around the deadline, contending teams covet a guy like him, could return assets…..

  • Heisenberg

    The first big domino in free agency has fallen. I’m pretty sure that means Miller isn’t picking Denver.

  • slugdugg

    I’m happy Bron is going back to CLE. I love it when small market teams like the Cavs and Spurs and OKC are the powerhouses of the league. Now we just need to get Denver up there too…

    • Scott

      The sad part is that it’s all via draft for small market teams including CLE with Lebron because it’s his home. No top free agents ever look the way of small market teams :(

      • MTIG

        Agreed. Until a hard cap is in place / revenue sharing with owners being equal ….the NBA will never be equal. We want a league of parity. Every team (fan) should have a chance to win.
        I am happy for Cleveland…. but I doubt a Championship will follow.

        If LBJ stayed in Cleveland I think they win a championship.
        He would have forced those around him to win as he desired the ring.

        He left, …won with an elite team (default) and now he comes home. Desire..Drive.. Destiny…???
        Not seeing it. He took the easy road to win it all… IMO

        • Native Nugget

          Agree with you that he took the easy rode and was the first star to circumnavigate the team development process by arranging an all-star trio via personal conversations/plots. IMO there needs to be an asterisk by each of his championships in Miami. BUT, to choose to go back wipes that slate clean. I can root for him as the grown man he’s become and let go of the juvenile choices of his younger years.

          • Heisenberg

            An asterisk? Why?

            If any asterisk is needed, it’s for the 2002 Lakers. But that’s obviously a different topic.

            • MTIG

              All of the above are valid discussions.
              LBJ did nothing wrong, he just showed this system does not work for all.

              The issue is the competitiveness and the dollars allowed to build a team. It’s always the haves and have nots. That is why a solid hard cap, revenue sharing between teams is needed. Large cap teams need small market to build revenue. 8 Teams will not feed the player appetite.

              LeBron leaving to be part of a super team opened everyone’s eyes. Think LeBron set that up? Sounds more like Riley & Owner plans….

              League needs to monitor salary dumping trades. They stopped a Chris Paul talent trade, limit number one picks and need to stop salary dumps.

              Players can sign where they want for any amount they want but Miami should be stuck with the cap they signed for for the entire contract. Wade, LBJ and Bosh were on the books for the entire contract even if it’s not honored. Stops the I opt out but re-sign crap to keep a superstar team. If a player option is exercised it stays on the books. You agreed to a poor contract..
              Gets rid of these ridiculous options and collusion. Yes…the big three was and is collusion. Players won’t like guarantees are few. Welcome to our world. Deserve to earn. Day to day for most of us.

              The thought is to bring balance and competitiveness to all teams.

              If I were a Knicks, Laker, Celtics, Miami and the other 4 including SA that hang with the cool kids for a while… I’d be totally against it.

        • Heisenberg

          The Cavs roster outside LeBron was absolute garbage. Cleveland’s front office was terrible, passing on an opportunity to trade for Amare (at a great price too) while he was still in his prime.

          Cleveland went from first to worst the year after LeBron left. Can’t blame him for leaving, he gave them 7 years and the best player he got was Mo Williams.

          • LBJ

            Exactly. Maybe there should be asterisks by all of Kobe’s rings since they weren’t won with Charlotte.

            • Native Nugget

              I don’t fault LeBron for leaving a bad team or for wanting to play with good players. I’m familiar with the arguments that many if not most championship teams had multiple all-stars – and I agree. The difference is LeBron is the first superstar to meet with two other all-stars off-line from any management involvement and get them to agree to pay cuts. Could be viewed as a savvy innovation in a competitive world, except their execution (‘the Decision’ and the rockstar intro on a smoke filled stage) reflected juvenile egos circumnavigating the usual process out of sheer entitlement. The asterisks I would put by their wins would reflect special circumstances no other team has ever seen. I believe LeBron knows this, knows his legacy would be forever tarnished for the way he left and with the perception the ONLY way he could win was to manipulate a massive short cut. He’s grown up since then and is amending the situation – I respect that. Hope he wins in Cleveland someday.

              • Heisenberg

                Jordan, Bird, Magic, Kobe….all of them had HOF talent. LeBron had Mo Williams. There was an opportunity in Miami and he took it. I see no shame in that.

                “Special circumstances no other team has seen.” What? So players aren’t allowed to move via free agency? Don’t tell me you’re blaming the lockout…

                I’m not really a LeBron fan, but he has received way, way too much hate over the last 4 years. I truly believe he never would have left Cleveland if they gave him talent.

              • Native Nugget

                Again, I’m not saying other superstars didn’t need amazing talent around them. Nor am I blaming LeBron for leaving a poorly run organization, I actually applaud his intelligent business/basketball savvy choice of leaving Cleveland. What I’m pointing out is that Jordan, Bird, Magic, Kobe, etc. ALL got their supporting casts via good management or good free agency decisions moving to superior destinations. None of them organized private meetings with multiple superstars/all-stars and personally arranged pay cuts. It’s not apples to apples to say Kobe played with Shaq or Jordan had Pippen. ALL of the other championship combinations happened through traditional means (management, draft, free agency, etc.) There are no other examples that I know of where the superstar collaborated with other all-stars INDEPENDENTLY, then negotiated pay cuts INDEPENDENTLY, then chose the destination. LeBron did not choose Miami the way other players chose new teams in the past. He chose the players he wanted to play with, organized them into the first ever prepackaged all-star-triad and then negotiated pay cuts for further advantage. Only then did they all agree to play in Miami, mainly due to good management and Wade’s ties to the organization.

                To me the debate isn’t whether that pattern is different because it clearly is, the debate is if there is any less merit in winning through that innovative approach. Players are more business savvy, sociable with one another and empowered than past NBA players. Seems inevitable players would have taken more control of their destinies. My biggest problem with that approach (aside from the poor taste in ‘The Decision’etc.) is it undermines the league’s parity even further (which is saying a lot). Miami has had a huge advantage since the big three arrived which has stacked the decks in favor of even more high end superstar cliques dominating the league who will play only in… you guessed it – Big Markets. It took a rare combination of near perfect management, player development, coaching and team play to win this year. I’m hoping LeBron’s legacy becomes winning in Cleveland through traditional means and not having been the nitwit who set the stage for future prepackaged power teams to dominate a league already lopsided away from any semblance of parity.

  • Hank

    i’m looking into the future and i’m saying we should have drafted mitch mcgary over jusuf

    • Native Nugget

      Hope you are wrong for the Nuggs sake. Fingers crossed Nurkic turns out to be a unpolished gem with attitude to go with his size.

      • Hank

        i hope so too but mcgary has looked VERY solid in summer league (even though it’s summer league), fundamentally he’s been pretty good, he hustles on defense, can shoot a midrange, rebound, good screens, and he was drafted a lot later than jusuf by OKC, which has a history of good drafts somehow

        • Native Nugget

          Agreed. Early signs favor your future prediction. Still hoping in the end we’ll feel Nurkic outperforms expectations for his place in the draft selections list.

        • Cullen

          Agreed and hopefully Brooks actually gives him minutes and time to develop. They’ve had great draft nights but Brooks has botched a lot of development with guys like Perry Jones, etc. Also Jeremy Lamb who they landed in a trade. If any of those players developed, they would be a GREAT team.

  • Heisenberg

    Pretty surprising Bosh is re-signing in Miami. It doesn’t seem likely, but I wonder if Melo would now consider Miami. It seemed like a lock for Bosh to go to Houston.

    • LBJ

      If Melo wants to win he goes to Chicago. If he wants the money he goes back to the Knicks.

    • Native Nugget

      I was surprised as well. Makes no sense – Dwayne’s knees will likely limit his effectiveness and there are no other decent starters. Pat must have had a convincing pitch for what he plans to do with the $ freed up by LeBron’s exit.

      • LBJ

        Well I can think of 30 million reasons. Plus, should the heat sign deng they will be a playoff team in the east.

        • Native Nugget

          Fair enough. Maybe having a few rings already influences his decision as well. Seems he’d have a better chance to see another ring if he’d gone to Houston. But like you said $…

          • LBJ

            I agree that Houston is a better team with bosh than the heat. But the west is going to be even tougher next year.

            • Cullen

              Yeah, even with Bosh I don’t see the Rockets winning a championship anytime soon. The west is too tough, they would still have no defense, etc. At least in Miami he gets paid.