The Denver Nuggets finished their 2016-2017 season just outside of the playoff bubble at 40-42 to occupy the 9th place in the rough and rugged Western Conference. It was a year of ups and downs as the Nuggets overcame injuries and a minor mid season shakeup while discovering a superstar in plain sight with the emergence of Nikola Jokic. With their offseason starting a little early, what lies ahead in the Rocky Mountains for the Nuggets?
Nuggets Contract Situation
11 Players under contract next season: (Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur, Jameer Nelson, Will Barton, Emmanual Mudiay, Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez, Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, Nikola Jokic)
1 Expired Contract: Roy Hibbert
1 Player with a Player Option: Danillo Gallinari
1 Restricted Free Agent: Mason Plumlee
In terms of contracts the Denver Nuggets are in a very solid place. The majority of their roster will be back next year and they have the ability to retain Gallinari and Plumlee if they wish. The only issue will be whether or not the front office decides to spend on what could be very expensive contracts, especially in the case of Gallinari, who has a player option that he will most certainly decline in favor of a more lucrative one.
Gallinari is a great scorer with amazing range who can help a number of teams that need a steady scoring punch. However he is also injury prone, and at 28 will want and receive a contract that will most likely bring him to the end of his prime and into his decline. Mason Plumlee, who came to Denver from Portland in the Jusuf Nurkic trade, has been up and down in his brief tenure. However, Denver may be more inclined to bring him back simply to justify the fact that they gave up a first round pick to acquire him in the first place.
Outlook Moving Forward
The good news for Denver is that they are set for the future with plenty of young prospects how have flashed high potential. Nikola Jokic in particular has been a revelation with his tantalizing mix of amazing passing, low post offense, and a soft shooting touch that extends beyond the three point line.
Jokic has clearly cemented himself as the cornerstone of the next great Nuggets team, but there’s more. Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, and Emmanual Mudiay have also played well throughout the year and will be relied upon more next season. However, Jamal Murray has flashed the most potential and seems to be the sidekick of the future with his dynamic offensive ability and great ball hawking tenacity when engaged.
Whether the Nuggets resign Danilo Gallinari or not will definitely be the main story line of Denver’s offseason. Regardless, with progression and development from Jokic, Murray, and the other young Nuggets as well as the steady play of stable veterans such as Wilson Chandler and Will Barton, expect Denver to build off their record and reach the playoffs next season for the first time in 5 years.
Position that needs to be addressed immediately: Depth at either Guard spot
Front Office Leadership: Solid
Likelihood Of Substantial Offseason Moves: Not likely.