As painful as Sunday’s Game 7 loss might be, there’s little doubt the Nuggets arrived ahead of schedule this season.
They went from one game out of the playoffs a year ago to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and one win shy of the franchise’s first conference finals trip in a decade.
If the Nuggets decline their $30 million team option on Millsap — and let’s face it, they’d be crazy not to consider it — the franchise will be a player in both the free-agent and trade markets this summer.
They have assets galore, a competent front office in a desirable city and a budding superstar who shares the ball more than any player in his class. That’s a whole lot to sell, and there’s plenty of potential targets to pitch it to.
Mark Kiszla and Mike Singer already identified two of them in Tobias Harris and Bojan Bogdanovic. Here’s a few more Denver ought to make a run at:
Khris Middleton, SF — If you enjoyed Torrey Craig’s lockdown defense, but weren’t particularly fond of his inconsistent shooting, I’ve got just the guy for you. At 6-foot-8, Middleton has the length to give opponents problems on the perimeter as well as the shot-making ability to provide a deadly second or third option on offense. It’s hard to envision him wanting to leave Giannis Antetokounmpo’s side, but given Milwaukee’s bulging cap sheet, it’s quite possible the Bucks won’t be able to afford him.
Harrison Barnes, SF/PF — Much like Middleton, Barnes is silky smooth 6-foot-8 shooter with the ability to stretch defenses and create off the dribble. He can also slot in as a small-ball four, giving coach Michael Malone the luxury of multiple looks. The one problem: Barnes has a $25 million player option with Sacramento. At 26 years old, it’s anybody’s guess whether he’ll decline it and go looking for a long-term deal.
Nikola Mirotic, PF — This one might hurt a bit on the defensive end, but if the Nuggets were to convince Millsap to stay at a discount — say, two years, $30 million — Mirotic could fit in nicely as an interchangeable stretch four who spaces the floor for Denver’s guards and adds scoring punch to the second unit.
Bobby Portis, PF — Consider this another option if the Nuggets are able to lower the price on Millsap. There might be some bad blood between Portis and Nikola Jokic’s brothers. But if the Nuggets are interested in adding a tough-minded stretch four who can bang down low at a discount price, that’s all water under the bridge.
Anthony Davis, C/PF — This is the longest of shots for the Nuggets — outside of free-agent-to-be Kevin Durant, of course — but certainly one worth investigating given Davis’ unrivaled talents. Davis (in)famously put himself on the trading block earlier this year, and there will likely be plenty of suitors lining up to make New Orleans an offer. The Boston Celtics have long been considered the best bet to acquire the Brow’s services, but with Kyrie Irving’s green-and-white future in doubt, there may be an opening. If Davis is willing to commit to a long-term deal to stay in the Mile High City, the Nuggets have to consider it. If not, there’s plenty of fish in the sea.
— Matt Schubert, The Denver Post
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What’s on Tap?
- Rockies: At Boston Red Sox, 5:10 p.m. Tuesday, ATTRM | Buy tickets
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Michael Porter Jr. feels “like a better player than I’ve ever been”; Nuggets rookie plans to play in NBA Summer League
Can’t wait for the NBA Summer League to tip off on July 5? Neither can Michael Porter Jr. — because the former Nuggets first-round pick said Monday that he expects to join it as a healthy participant. Read more…
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The Nuggets hold a $30 million team option on the veteran forward. It’s their most significant transactional decision of this upcoming offseason. Despite his diminished offensive role, Millsap was instrumental in helping lead the Nuggets deep into the second round of the playoffs. Read more…
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+ Broncos’ Von Miller says Chris Harris “100 percent” deserves new contract.
+ Here’s some news that will make Nuggets fans cringe: Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins may miss Western Conference Finals.
+ The next coach to be fired by LeBron James: Frank Vogel.
+ Tonight we learn where Zion Williamson will ply his trade for at least a few seasons.
+ Just in case you forgot, the PGA Championship is being played this weekend — and right now it’s cold.
+ Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein is headed for the Mistake by the Lake to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.
+ Things are now all good between Conor McGregor and the guy whose phone he allegedly smashed.
+ Robert Kraft’s visits to a Florida massage parlor will not be open to public viewing.
Post Mailbag forms
+ Broncos Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Ryan O’Halloran here.
+ Nuggets Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Mike Singer here.
+ Avs Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Mike Chambers here.
+ Rockies Mailbag: Have a question about the team? Ask Patrick Saunders here.
By The Numbers
The Rockies’ bullpen ERA at the first quarter pole of the season, good for ninth in the National League. Read more…
Soccer is often a great unifier — an opportunity for locals to set aside their various differences and come together to cheer together for their team. But Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, matters became all the more complicated. Read more…
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