Unfortunately the NBA playoffs have just begun and we are preparing an offseason preview for the Nuggets. However, they had a tremendous season and took the Wolves to overtime on the road fighting for the last playoff spot. They posted their best record over the last five years, but it just wasn’t quite enough.
Looking to next season all but three players are already signed on for next season. That list includes three unrestricted free agents in Will Barton, Devin Harris and Richard Jefferson. They also have two players who hold player options: $12.8 million for Wilson Chandler and $7.5 million for Darrel Arthur. In addition, Jokic is in line for his potential super max and Denver must decide whether to give him the max extension this summer as a restricted free agent or next offseason when he becomes unrestricted.
The first decision that has to be made is by Wilson Chandler and Darrell Arthur. Given the cap space crunch this summer, Arthur should absolutely capitalize on $7.5 million as he is likely not to make that back the rest of his career after posting career-lows in games played, minutes played, points, rebounds and assists. As for Chandler, this is a much tougher decision. He has to take into account his long-term financial security while recognizing there is so little cap space available this summer. Given he is still eligible for a long-term deal next summer and no team will offer him eight figures a season this offseason he seems best off picking up his player option.
With Gary Harris’ new contract beginning this season, the Nuggets are already over $100 million in cap space. Considering his deal starts at $25.3 million, the Nuggets cap for next season balloons past the luxury tax threshold of $123 million. This would bring the Nuggets cap to $135.5 million and give them no ability to sign free agents other than their own. So the next question to ask is what to do with Jokic.
Nikola Jokic is due to be a restricted free agent and given the Nuggets limited financial flexibility it seems best to lock him now without ever letting him hit the open market. While this will be costly today, the Nuggets truly have no other options. If they were not to re-sign him this offseason, there would not be ‘extra’ cap space available to sign other players. By not signing him, this would only leave Jokic the option to leave next offseason.
While this offseason doesn’t offer much potential for new additions, the young Nuggets core can be locked up for the foreseeable future. Although they were unable to make the playoffs this year, there is plenty of hope with the untapped potential still currently on the Nuggets roster. With three of the starters still under 24, the Nuggets should be confident in the growth of the current roster and be ready to roll the dice with the same core next season.