Nuggets offseason preview: Nikola Jokic extension, free agents and more

Nuggets offseason preview: Nikola Jokic extension, free agents and more

Nuggets

Nuggets offseason preview: Nikola Jokic extension, free agents and more

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The Denver Nuggets went through somewhat of a gap year as they await the recoveries of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. They still remained competitive and fortified their bench by re-signing Will Barton and JaMychal Green, as well as signing Jeff Green to contracts that run through next season. Nikola Jokic had his second straight MVP-caliber season, leading a short-handed Nuggets team to 48 wins. He will now aim to lead them tor a Finals run next season assuming good health and internal improvement.

The Nuggets will head into the 2022 offseason with limited flexibility but with several important objectives. While most of their roster is set and should improve on health and continuity alone, they also need to extend Jokic as well as bring back several key free agents. They are set to become significant taxpayers this season for the first time in over a decade, so it will be interesting to see how deep into the tax ownership is willing to go.

Nikola Jokic supermax and future tax implications

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Jokic became supermax eligible last season by virtue of winning his first MVP award. He will finally be able to sign it this offseason once he gets seven years of service on his belt. It is projected at $260 million over five years and would pay him $59.1 million in the 2027-28 season. His agent has already confirmed that Jokic plans on signing the extension this offseason.

The Nuggets are set to become taxpayers for the foreseeable future as long as they have Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon on the roster. Their luxury tax payments can range between $40 million to $80 million over the next three seasons with their core players in addition to a strong bench. Next season alone could have Denver facing up to a $70 million luxury tax bill if they maximize their spending, and that’s before Jokic’s new deal kicks in.

Where the pain could really start to be felt is if the team is still together three years from now. They would likely be in the repeater tax by then which could elevate their tax payments north of the $150 million range. For comparison, the Warriors have a $170 million tax payment in 2021-22 with Stephen Curry earning the supermax, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins earning maximum contracts, and Draymond Green earning a significant non-maximum salary. That is identical to the pay structures the Nuggets have set with Jokic, Murray, Porter Jr., and Gordon, respectively.

Re-sign key free agents

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Denver has several important role players that could become unrestricted free agents. Both the J Greens have player options they could decline to potentially get a little more money on their next deals.

JaMychal Green will have Early Bird rights if he declines his $8.2 million player option, making him eligible to re-sign with the Nuggets for up to four years, $64.3 million. Jeff Green will be a Non Bird free agent if he declines his $4.5 million player option. This would allow the Nuggets to re-sign him for up to three years, $17 million with a starting salary of $5.4 million.

It’s possible both players get a little pay raise if they opt out, especially since teams will pay a premium for versatile forwards who can defend multiple positions. Bryn Forbes also has Non Bird rights and is eligible for the same contract structure as Jeff Green with the Nuggets but with an additional year.

Facundo Campazzo and Vlatko Cancar are Denver’s two top restricted free agents. Campazzo has seen his role reduced due to the emergence of Bones Hyland and may not be in the rotation at all when Murray returns. Davon Reed and Markus Howard are also set to become restricted free agents. Both could be candidates to be back on the regular season roster next year.

2022-23 SALARY SITUATION

Guaranteed salaries: $158,679,553

Non-guaranteed salaries: $0

Total salary: $158,679,553

Luxury tax space: $9.7 over the luxury tax ($15.7 million luxury tax payment)

Exceptions:

Taxpayer Mid-level: $6,392,000

Nikola Jokic

2022-23 salary: $33,047,804

Remaining salary guaranteed: $33,047,804

Additional notes: Jokic is eligible to sign the supermax extension projected at five years, $260 million starting on July 1, 2021. He would not be eligible to be traded for one year upon signing it.

He also has $1.1 million in incentives, half of which are considered likely.

Jamal Murray

2022-23 salary: $31,650,600

Remaining salary guaranteed: $101,500,200 through 2024-25

Additional notes: Murray is eligible to extend for up to two years, $88.2 million starting on July 19, 2022.

Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter attacks the rim

2022-23 salary: $30,350,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $164,030,000 through 2026-27

Additional notes: Porter Jr. is partially guaranteed for $12 million in 2026-27 but can become fully guaranteed if he achieves certain achievements.

Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon attempts a dunk

2022-23 salary: $19,690,909

Remaining salary guaranteed: $86,640,001 through 2025-26

Additional notes: Gordon has $1.2 million in unlikely incentives.

He also has a $22.8 million player option for 2025-26.

Will Barton

2022-23 salary: $14,375,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $14,375,000

Additional notes: Barton has $1 million in unlikely incentives.

Monte Morris

Monte Morris

2022-23 salary: $9,125,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $18,925,926

Additional notes: Morris will become extension-eligible during the offseason starting on August 28th for up to three years, projected at $43 million.

JaMychal Green

2022-23 salary: $8,200,000 (player option)

Remaining salary guaranteed: $8,200,000

Additional notes: Green can decline his player option and become an unrestricted Early Bird free agent. He would be eligible to re-sign with the Nuggets for up to four years, $64.3 million.

He also has $250,000 in unlikely incentives.

Jeff Green

2022-23 salary: $4,500,000 (player option)

Remaining salary guaranteed: $4,500,000

Additional notes: Green can decline his player option and become an unrestricted Non Bird free agent. He would be eligible to re-sign with the Nuggets for up to three years, $17 million.

Green has $500,000 in unlikely incentives.

Zeke Nnaji

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $2,617,800

Remaining salary guaranteed: $6,924,081 through 2023-24 (assuming team option for 2023-24 gets picked up)

Bones Hyland

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $2,201,520

Remaining salary guaranteed: $10,763,240 through 2024-25 (assuming team options for 2023-24 and 2024-25 get picked up)

Bryn Forbes

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hold: $5,400,000

Type of free agent: Non Bird (unrestricted)

Additional notes: Forbes can decline his player option and become an unrestricted Non-Bird free agent. He would be eligible to re-sign with the Nuggets for up to four years, $23.2 million.

Facundo Campazzo

Facundo Campazzo, Denver Nuggets

Cap hold: $4.160,000

Type of free agent: Early Bird (restricted)

Vlatko Cancar

Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Cap hold: $2,228,276

Type of free agent: Bird (restricted)

DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins trying to advance against Khem Birch

Cap hold: $1,811,516

Type of free agent: Non Bird (unrestricted)

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers, Denver Nuggets

Cap hold: $1,811,516

Type of free agent: Non Bird (unrestricted)

Markus Howard

Markus Howard, Denver Nuggets

Cap hold: $1,616,044

Type of free agent: Early Bird (restricted)

Davon Reed

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hold: $1,616,044

Type of free agent: Non Bird (restricted)

2022 Pick No. 21

2022-23 salary: $2,770,920

Remaining salary guaranteed: $13,584,646 through 2025-26 (assuming team options on last two seasons are picked up)

Additional notes: HoopsHype and ForTheWin’s draft expert Bryan Kalbrosky has the Nuggets selecting Terquavion Smith with the 21st overall selection in his most recent mock draft. Kalbrosky also has Harrison Ingram ranked as the 21st best prospect in his most recent big board.

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