Ink dry on Nurkic, Harris, Green contracts, Nuggets roster set at 15

What was already anticipated has now become official, as the Nuggets announced over the past two days that they have signed first round draft picks Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris, as well as last year’s second rounder Erick Green.

The signings bring the roster up to the maximum of 15 players, and unless Tim Connelly and the front office unearth a trade deal they can’t refuse, they will go into the 2014-15 season with the current crew. (more…)

Rumor: Chandler and McGee may be on the block

Rumors surfaced in mid-June that the Nuggets might be in the hunt for Kevin Love. Several names were floated as possible inclusions in a trade proposal, including Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, and (even though he was still with the Magic) Aaron Afflalo.

Although not in the context of a Love trade, Chandler’s name has now been dropped once again as a player the Nuggets may be attempting to deal, and this time rather than the Manimal or AAA, he’s joined on the hypothetical trade block by JaVale McGee. As tweeted by Alex Kennedy of BasketballInsiders.com:

The Denver Nuggets have considered trading JaVale McGee and/or Wilson Chandler, according to league sources.

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Free agency begins: Assessing the Nuggets’ salary and a potential Faried extension

It’s time to take stock of the state of Denver’s salary structure, as the NBA free agency period has officially begun, and with it the annual ritual of Nuggets fans speculating which players – if any – the team will target this summer.

With just one roster spot currently open, it seems unlikely that Denver will be overly active in free agency unless they make a trade or two to trim down the payroll and free up roster space. And while GM Tim Connelly will have the full $5.3 million mid-level exception at his disposal, using it would likely propel Denver over the luxury tax threshold, territory where the Kroenkes have generally been loathe to tread.

This may not only be an issue this season, but could be in 2015-16 considering that a Kenneth Faried extension may be in the works. Zach Lowe of Grantland.com recently tweeted: (more…)

Grading Tim Connelly’s first year as Denver Nuggets General Manager

On June 17 last year, the Nuggets announced that Tim Connelly had been tapped to take the helm of Denver’s front office. In the month preceding his hiring, owner Josh Kroenke had overseen a turbulent start to Denver’s offseason, and Connelly joined a Nuggets organization reckoning with the startling departure of Masai Ujiri for Toronto and the firing of Coach of the Year George Karl. Exacerbating the chaotic atmosphere, Andre Iguodala – who the Nuggets clearly had expected to return – opted out to become an unrestricted free agent just eleven days after Connelly’s arrival, and it quickly became clear that he did not intend to re-sign with Denver.

From day one, Connelly’s rookie year as general manager has been a trial by fire, albeit a fire he enthusiastically jumped into.

To many, including a fair share of the writers here at Roundball Mining Company, it seemed unrealistic that the Nuggets would be able to replicate (let alone surpass) the previous season’s success (more…)

Dearth of financial flexibility and open roster spots may result in a quiet Nuggets offseason

Although chaos ruled last summer’s Nuggets offseason, this year it may be defined by calm.

Going into the 2014 offseason, the Nuggets have a roster likely to remain loaded up at or near the 15-player maximum. Of their current 15 contracted players, only two are expiring – Jan Vesely and Aaron Brooks. Another two, Darrell Arthur and Nate Robinson, have player options but have both expressed interest in staying with the Nuggets. And Denver will surely hang onto the only remaining player whose 2014-15 salary is not guaranteed. The coaching staff and front office have highly praised Quincy Miller’s progress this season, and will be looking to continue his development.

So if the Nuggets let Vesely and Brooks walk, they will be entering the offseason with only two open roster spots. (more…)

Nuggets Make Rookie Contract Option Decisions

With the deadline to exercise team options on three rookie contracts looming tomorrow the Nuggets have made their decisions.

Denver picked up the options on Evan Fournier ($1.4 million for 2014-2015) and Kenneth Faried ($2.2 million dollars in 2014-2015) and declined the option on Jordan Hamilton.

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Stein: Nuggets in pursuit of Mike Miller

ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that the Denver Nuggets are targeting 33-year-old 3-point specialist Mike Miller, who entered the free agency market after being waived by the Miami Heat:

The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a new suitor at the forefront of the free-agent pursuit of Mike Miller, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Nuggets are now getting strong consideration from Miller along with the early frontrunners in the race to sign him: Oklahoma City and Memphis.

The Nuggets, however, will be facing some stiff competition in the Miller sweepstakes. (more…)

2013 salary cap and luxury tax status, part 2: questions and answers

Q: Which players have the Nuggets signed for 2013-14, and what are their total combined salaries?

A: Based on the latest reported offers, the Nuggets have $60.3 million dedicated to 13 players: Lawson, A. Miller, Foye, Fournier, Hamilton, Gallinari, Chandler, Q. Miller, Faried, Hickson, Arthur, McGee, and Randolph. (Foye and Hickson cannot officially be signed until July 10.) The salary cap is $58.6 million.

Q: Can the Nuggets still sign players even though they’re over the cap?
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2013 salary cap and luxury tax status

The NBA salary cap is projected to be $58.6 million for the 2013-14 season. The Nuggets currently have 10 players with guaranteed contracts totaling $51.3 million: Lawson, McGee, Gallinari, Chandler, A. Miller, Arthur, Randolph, Fournier, Faried, and Hamilton. Quincy Miller also has a partial guarantee of $150 thousand. Due to cap holds for free agents, the Nuggets will be treated as a team over the salary cap and can therefore only sign players using the following methods:

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Future contract options for Iguodala and the Nuggets

When Andre Iguodala made his much anticipated post-trade appearance with the Nuggets brass at the Pepsi Center, he spoke in upbeat tones about the prospects of a long term tenure with his new team. On the question of his future in Denver, Iguodala explained that he and executive Masai Ujiri were both on the same page:

We aren’t coming in to this thinking this is just a one year deal we are looking to the future and definitely looking ahead looking to see how we can go forward so this isn’t a quick stop for me.

On the surface it seems simple enough. Iguodala has two years remaining on his contract at $14,968,250 and $16,154,750 respectively, with an Early Termination Option (ETO) for the final year. This allows at least one or two years for he and the Nuggets to work out a new deal which will keep him around long term.

But what, specifically, are are the possibilities for Iguodala and the Nuggets going forward, and which of these various scenarios is most likely to play out in reality? (more…)

The Denver Nuggets have paid the 11th most in luxury tax

The NBA’s big spenders will soon have to reckon with a much more punitive luxury tax structure. From the league’s implementation of the tax in 2003, teams have been required to pay “just” one dollar in luxury tax for every dollar in payroll that exceeds the tax threshold. This relatively soft penalty on an already soft salary cap will soon undergo significant changes. Cap guru Larry Coon describes the new luxury tax conditions under the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will kick into effect next year:

Starting in 2012-13, teams pay an incremental tax that increases with every $5 million above the tax threshold ($1.50, $1.75, $2.50, $3.25, etc.). Teams that are repeat offenders (paying tax at least four out of the past five seasons) have a tax that is higher still — $1 more at each increment ($2.50, $2.75, $3.50, $4.25, etc.).

The desired effect is that these heavier penalties will give pause to even the deepest pocketed, biggest spending owners such as the Knicks’ James Dolan, the Lakers’ Jerry Buss, and the Mavericks’ Mark Cuban, when it comes to dishing out big bucks on salaries. (Though many might point to this summer’s free agency period as evidence the dissuasive effect has been minimal so far).

With the Kroenke family at the helm, the Denver Nuggets have been in the upper strata of teams with wealthy owners. According to (more…)

JaVale McGee – To Pay or Not to Pay, That is the Question

In the summer of 1996 Dikembe Mutombo was a free agent.  Dikembe was the best player on the Nuggets, but the Atlanta Hawks offered him a sizeable contract.  Bernie Bickerstaff was faced with a decision.  Pay Dikembe more than he felt he was worth, or let the cornerstone of the franchise walk.

Bernie decided that it was not wise to pay Dikembe and Mutombo became a member of the Atlanta Hawks.  The rest is history.  Dikembe won three of the next five defensive player of the year awards and helped lead the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 2001 while the Nuggets crumbled into obscurity.

Clearly Bickerstaff chose poorly.  Mutombo was easily worth the money that he was offered.  Even so, Bernie may have actually been ahead of his time.  One of the keys to managing a team in the luxury tax era is recognizing when to say, “uncle” over a player’s salary.

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The Denver Nuggets, Finances and Free Agency

The Denver Nuggets have an opportunity to add a quality player, or three, in the upcoming NBA Draft, soon after that free agency will kick off so it is important to know how the Nuggets stand heading into both events.  Kalen has been doing a fantastic job of covering the draft so I will lay out a picture of the Nuggets financial standing and provide a few insights into the upcoming free agency period.

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