NBA rumors: Will Barton will enter free agency after declining player option

Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: Denver Nuggets G/F Will Barton has declined his $14.7M player option for the 2021-2022 season and will become a free agent. There’s a strong interest between the organization and Barton to negotiate a new deal once free agency opens in August.

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Adrian Wojnarowski: Longest tenured Nugget with 7 seasons, Barton’s a top priority for Tim Connelly to keep long-term. He started 52 games and averaged 12.7 PPG. He lost several weeks with hamstring injury into start of playoffs, but finished with 25-point performance vs. Suns in elimination game.
Barton has until July 17 to exercise his player option for 2021-22, and it would be hard for him to justify turning it down to become a free agent. Despite coming off a season in which he shot a career-high 38.1% from 3 and averaged double-digit points for a sixth straight year, Barton has been bit by the injury bug the past three seasons. In total, Barton has missed 91 games (hip, knee and hamstring) and played only three of Denver's 29 postseason games over the past two years.
Will Barton: GOD look what you’ve done for me. Thank you, I can do all things through you I can do nothing without you. I love you. BMORE this for US! Denver we back at let’s get it! To the trenches & the real ones if I did it so can yall. We motivating the trap. Love for life!
Chris Haynes: ESPN Sources: Will Barton agrees to four-year, $54 million deal to remain in Denver. Also, he's expected to be promoted to starting small forward.
Albert Nahmad: Nuggets, with Nikola Jokic at 5/$148M max and Will Barton at 4/$54M, would have 14 players (incl. Michal Porter Jr.) under contract, at $146M. Would mean another $53M in luxury taxes (at $22M over); $198M total. May look to trade Faried, Plumlee, Chandler and/or Arthur to reduce.
Chris Haynes: Free agent guard Will Barton and Denver intends to ink a four-year, $54 million deal, league sources ESPN. He will have a player option on fourth year.
Alex Kennedy: Contrary to reports, league sources say that the Indiana Pacers aren't meeting with Will Barton tonight. The two sides didn't have a meeting scheduled. @Chris Mannix is right: Barton is nearing a deal to return to the Denver Nuggets.
Mark Deeks: Four year deal for Will Barton starting at $11 million with 8% raises would be $49.28 million. Assume he gets $11 mil and that Jokic gets the new max and Porter is signed, you got this:
Adrian Wojnarowski: There's strong momentum with the Denver Nuggets and their free agent guard Will Barton to get a deal done quickly after the start of free agency at 12:01 AM, league sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Barton has been a strong focus for the Pacers, who would pivot and search for perimeter free agent help elsewhere. Doug McDermott and Joe Harris are potential Pacers targets, league sources tell ESPN.
Will Barton: “Playing in that FedExForum every night, sellouts, it did something to me, it did something for me,” said Barton, who was picked 40th overall by Portland in the 2012 draft. “It was like a high being in Memphis, not just on the court, but off the court. Going everywhere and being treated like a rock star. I can go on and on, man. It’s crazy, man. Sometimes I go back and replay it in my head. Sometimes I wish I could go back and feel some of that stuff over again, because it was just a special time for me.”
After betting on himself last season, Barton is in position to reap the rewards of free agency. “Right now, I’m just talking to my agent and he’s keeping me updated with everything,” Barton continued. “I can’t talk too much about it, because it hasn’t officially started. We’ve got a plan and we’re sticking to it. Everything is looking on the up and up, and we’ll see what happens. I know everything will be fine, because we put the work in. We did what we had to do.”
Chris Haynes: ESPN Sources: With Indiana declining team option on Lance Stephenson, Tyreke Evans and Will Barton are expected to be two of its free-agent targets.
Gina Mizell: Tim Connelly on Will Barton's unrestricted free agency: "We’re hopeful we can get something done. He’s our guy. We love him. I think if he’s back in a Denver jersey, it’s good for both him and the team." #Nuggets
Now Barton has a big decision to make, entering this summer as an unrestricted free agent. And though Barton said he would “love” to be part of another Denver playoff push next season, he also expressed a desire to move into a permanent starting role. “We’re building something real special here,” Barton said Thursday. “I love playing with (Nikola Jokic) and Jamal (Murray) and Gary (Harris). The guys we have in the locker room, I like being around. The coaching staff has really come a long way with trusting me and me trusting them. Just the whole organization, I feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”
TJ McBride: Will Barton said that there is something special in Denver and that he loves playing with Jokic, Murray, and Harris. "Of course I'd like to be here. I'm real big on finishing what I started."
Barton has come a long way since his DNP-CDs in Portland, but he will face another moment of uncertainty in his NBA career this offseason, when he will be an unrestricted free agent. Last summer, after hiring Aaron Goodwin as his agent, Barton turned down a four-year, $42 million extension in early October, league sources told ESPN. That was the most Denver could offer, given salary-cap rules. Goodwin told Barton to bet on himself, and Barton has put up strong numbers. But the 27-year-old will be entering a different market than free agents in recent summers. Due to the abundance of spending after the new TV revenue deal kicked in, money appears to have drastically dried up for this class.
"I think the biggest things I'm looking for is respect, honesty and a team that's going to be real aggressive and show that they really want me," Barton said. "I want to be where I can be able to showcase my entire game on a regular basis, somewhere they really believe in me and are ready for me to have a bigger role."
To this day, Barton ponders what could've been in Portland. "I wouldn't say I hold any ill will [toward Portland]," he said. "At the end of the day, they drafted me. It just was like, 'Damn, I wish that I could have made it work.' It's like your first girlfriend. I was so close with Dame. He's always been one of my biggest supporters. It was a dream of mine to play alongside him. We came in together, played Summer League together. How special would it have been with me, him and CJ in the backcourt? "But I love Denver. I really want to stay with the Nuggets. This is where I got my shot, and I'm so thankful."
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