According to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post, the Denver Nuggets have agreed on a four-year, $42 million dollar extension with Danilo Gallinari as well as a three-year $9 million dollar extension with Kosta Koufos. It had been made public that the Nuggets wanted to re-sign Gallinari before Wednesday’s deadline to extend restricted free agents passed and it appears they have achieved this goal. This now ensures the Nuggets will have Arron Afflalo, Nene and Gallinari locked down for the foreseeable future. Next in line would seemingly be Ty Lawson although because he doesn’t become a restricted free agent until after the 2012-13 NBA season concludes, the Nuggets have time to work with him.
As for Koufos, this move is quite the surprise. It’s not often that third-string players get multi-year extensions, however after this signing it’s clear the Nuggets front office has the utmost amount of confidence in Koufos and his role on the team moving forward. Now if only George Karl shared this same amount of confidence in the young center and actually gave him minutes, this deal would seem more apt.
Candid thoughts: The Gallinari signing was an excellent move and only further corroborates the notion that Masai Ujiri is a “players” general manager. On his watch, not only have the Nuggets pulled off a phenomenal trade for its superstar who could have easily walked for nothing, but they’ve also managed to re-sign the best player that came to Denver in that deal, in addition to Nene and Afflalo.
So what’s the next big move for what is now one of the best front offices in the entire NBA? As mentioned above, Lawson needs to be re-signed in order to fully secure this young, improving roster for the future. Nene, Afflalo, Gallinari and Lawson are undoubtedly the franchise pillars with guys like Harrington, Brewer, Koufos, Mozgov, Faried and Hamilton acting as the other young role players (excluding Big Al; he’s the veteran leader) to compliment Denver’s solid starting rotation.
But even before Lawson is addressed, current restricted free agent, Wilson Chandler, needs to be first. As I’ve mentioned in the comments section, if the Nuggets desire is to re-sign Lawson (which it rightfully should be), that doesn’t leave much room for Chandler. In fact, it doesn’t leave any room for Chandler unless Masai Ujiri can somehow convince him to take a backup role and accept less money along the way — which certainly isn’t likely. As of right now the Nuggets have roughly $57 million committed to 12 players on the roster for next year, which obviously leaves three more spots that will need to be filled before the start of the 2012-13 campaign. The Nuggets do have three draft picks in the 2012 NBA draft, which in all likelihood they’ll need to hit on, as rookies are by far the best bargain in the league when it comes to salaries.
So, where does this leave Chandler?
My guess is the Nuggets will try and shop him. Current rules set forth by the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement disallow teams to match a restricted free agent’s contract offer from another team, only to then turn around and trade that player; therefore, the Nuggets will have to work with Chandler and teams who are interested in his services to come up with a beneficial sign-and-trade that will see him moved in return for assets most likely in the form of future draft picks given the Nuggets nearly-full roster and lack of financial flexibility. One thing is certain however: The Nuggets, under no circumstances will allow Chandler to walk for nothing. Ujiri proved this sentiment correct with the Carmelo Anthony trade last year. If for some reason a deal cannot be struck Ujiri will have no problem signing Chandler then reissuing one of the Nuggets two second-round draft picks to another team for a return pick down the line. If the Nuggets are forced to pay a small amount of luxury tax for one year, I’m pretty sure Kroenke would understand, especially if the Nuggets keep on the up their current pace.