Once again, the Denver Nuggets’ offseason 2022 started off way sooner than they’d wanted. Despite another MVP-caliber season from Nikola Jokic, Michael Malone’s team failed to stay alive in the NBA Playoffs, falling to the Golden State Warriors in just five games.
Nuggets offseason 2022
Jokic and the Nuggets showed a lot of fight throughout the whole season. They ground their way to the postseason despite multiple injuries and proved that they were no pushovers. But once again, that just wasn’t enough when it mattered the most.
So, what does the future hold for this team? They enter a key offseason with multiple questions to answer. Some of the upcoming Nuggets free agents will be highly sought-after, and they’ll also need to make a couple of moves to revamp their roster.
The Denver Nuggets are on the verge of becoming a legit contender to win the NBA Finals. But they need to stay healthy and add more firepower to take some pressure off Nikola Jokic‘s shoulders. With that in mind, let’s take a look at their current situation and the potential Nuggets’ offseason plans.
Upcoming Nuggets free agents
- Facundo Campazzo (RFA)
- Vlatko Cancar (RFA)
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Bryn Forbes
- Markus Howard (RFA, 2-Way Contract)
- Davon Reed (RFA, 2-Way Contract)
- Austin Rivers
- JaMychal Green (Player Option)
- Jeff Green (Player Option)
The Nuggets sure hope that both JaMychal and Jeff Green will pick up their player options and run it back for at least another year. They’re two of the best defenders and rebounders on the team, and their defensive versatility allows them to switch against multiple positions.
Facundo Campazzo was in and out of the rotation but showed some defensive grittiness when asked to contribute. As for Austin Rivers, he’s likely to draw some league-wide interest as one of the better backup scoring guards in the Association.
The Nuggets can’t afford to lose one of the best three-point shooters in the league in Bryn Forbes. Even if he doesn’t do much more than that, he’s got an elite wrist flick and can help them spread the floor, so keeping him should be a priority.
Nuggets cap space 2022
The Nuggets aren’t exactly loaded with cap space for the upcoming campaign. Even so, they’re still below the luxury tax threshold, so they could still afford to make some big moves if the front office feels like it’s time to enter win-now mode:
- Active contracts: $136,068,320
- Dead cap money: $3,338,356
- Total salary cap usage: $136,068,210
- Estimated 2021-22 luxury tax bill: $0 ($451,138 under luxury tax threshold)
- Salary on the books for 2022-23: $189,092,491
Jokic’s extension can’t come soon enough
Nikola Jokic is eligible to sign a supermax contract extension this summer. Needless to say, both he and the Nuggets will rush to get that done, as he’s the cornerstone of their project and all the dominoes will fall once he’s locked in for the future.
Jokic’s extension will be worth between $255 million and $273 million depending on the final salary cap numbers. It’s expected to be the most lucrative deal in NBA history, topping even Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s and Stephen Curry‘s. Even so, he’s worth every penny.
It’s all about health
The Nuggets need to get healthy. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are a tailor-made supporting cast for Jokic’s skills. He can set them up and get them the ball where and when they need it, yet Porter comes with plenty of red flags health-wise, and Murray wasn’t able to play at all in 2021-22.
All things considered, the Nuggets could’ve made a legit run at the NBA Finals had they all been healthy. Their injuries have pushed Jokic to a whole new level, he’s gotten into the best shape of his career and is now a much more aggressive scorer.
If Jokic keeps his foot on the gas — and there’s no reason to think he won’t — the Nuggets could be in the mix for the best record in the league next season. That’s assuming his co-stars will stay on the floor and reach this team’s seemingly untapped potential. They have the right pieces and the superstar.
Nuggets free agency targets
As we mentioned before, the Nuggets desperately craved another scorer and a guy who could create his own shot. That’s why Jeremy Lamb could be a solid pickup for them, as he won’t demand many touches nor a big salary to take his talents to the mountains.
Lamb is a streaky scorer who can get hot in the blink of an eye. While not the most efficient shooter on Earth, he can score from all three levels and has proven to be solid on limited minutes. Jokic’s playmaking will make things easy for him and he’ll be a no-risk pickup.
The Brooklyn Nets will make sure to try and keep Bruce Brown for the future but they may not be able to pay him what he’ll demand. He’s a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions, an underrated rebounder, and a guy who proved that he could score if needed as well.
Brown’s defense would be a perfect complement next to Jamal Murray. He can switch, guard the perimeter, and even get physical with big men below the rim. The Nuggets’ perimeter defense wasn’t exactly stout last season and he’d solve that issue right away.
Carmelo Anthony isn’t a fan favorite in Denver and for very good reasons but he might go full circle and finish it off where it all started. Regardless of how things turned out, he’s still one of the best players in franchise history and his skill set is just what they need right now.
The Los Angeles Lakers were a mess from top to bottom but Melo was actually quite solid. He was efficient, embraced a lesser role, and even contributed on the boards when he was on the floor. He’s the Sixth Man they need, even at his age.
But if Melo doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles and LeBron James, then the Nuggets should turn their attention to another Laker. Malik Monk showed glimpses of why he was a lottery pick and was one of the few bright spots on the team this season.
While he’s not going to be an All-Star, Monk proved to be capable of scoring in bunches when given enough touches. He’s not the best defender by any means but he could provide a big offensive spark off the bench at both guard spots.
Victor Oladipo has barely seen the floor despite being healthy, and that won’t change for as long as he stays with the Miami Heat. The rumor around the league is that he’s looking for a short-term ‘prove-it’ deal and the Nuggets might be the perfect landing spot for him.
Oladipo could either start or come off the bench, as he can play on and off the ball. He’d give them another pesky defender in the backcourt, another ball-handler, and another scoring threat. Obviously, health will always be a concern with him but he’s too talented not to at least consider signing him.