Nuggets Rumors

Nikola Jokic Reports To Nuggets, Clears Quarantine

After a delay involving a positive coronavirus test and various travel complications, center Nikola Jokic has reported to the Nuggets at the Walt Disney World campus and has cleared quarantine, the team announced today (via Twitter). Jokic had been in his home country of Serbia before arriving in Florida.

Although Jokic has gone through his two-day quarantine period, he hasn’t yet been cleared to participate in practice, according to Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports, who tweets that the big man is still waiting on results from “physical-type testing.” Jokic is watching the Nuggets’ Tuesday practice, Dempsey adds.

If the Nuggets – currently the No. 3 seed in the West – hope to make a deep playoff run, they’ll need Jokic at full health and full strength. The 25-year-old had been in the midst of another excellent season before the NBA went on hiatus, with averages of 20.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 6.9 APG to go along with a .528 FG% in 65 games (32.3 MPG).

Jokic had been one of several Nuggets players whose arrival at the Disney campus had been delayed. A Monday report indicated that Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr., Torrey Craig, and possibly Monte Morris aren’t there yet. However, there’s no indication that all of those players won’t eventually report and participate in the restart.

Nuggets Missing Multiple Players In Orlando

In addition to waiting on star center Nikola Jokic to arrive at the Walt Disney World campus from Serbia, the Nuggets are also currently missing a few other players, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). League sources tell Haynes that Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr., and Torrey Craig haven’t made the trip to Disney.

Haynes’ report doesn’t include any additional info, so it’s not clear if Harris, Porter, and Craig are set to arrive soon, or if there’s a possibility that any of them might end up not reporting at all. There’s also no word on whether the absences are related to the coronavirus.

Jokic’s trip to Florida was delayed by the fact that he tested positive for COVID-19 in his home country of Serbia. Before joining the Nuggets at the Disney campus, he had to be medically cleared and get a flight to the United States. Head coach Michael Malone said last week that he expected Jokic to arrive within a few days.

According to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic (Twitter link), guard Monte Morris also hasn’t been spotted in photos or videos since the team reported to Orlando last week, so it’s possible Morris isn’t there yet either, though that’s unconfirmed.

Even if all of the Nuggets’ missing players eventually arrive at Disney, they’ll have to go through a brief quarantine period before being cleared to participate in practices, so they could have a very abridged ramp-up period — Denver’s season is set to resume on August 1, just 19 days from now.

Still, with a comfortable hold on a playoff spot, the Nuggets could end up focusing on getting to full strength by the time the postseason begins rather than going all-out during the seeding games.

Community Shootaround: Western Conference Seeding

As we detailed on Friday when we discussed the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, there will be an opportunity for teams to move up – or down – in the standings when play resumes on July 30.

With eight “seeding games” on tap, teams are unlikely to make up five- or six-game deficits on the clubs ahead of them in the standings, but there’s a strong likelihood of a shake-up in instances where teams are only separated by a game or two.

That’s even more true in the Western Conference than it is in the East, albeit not necessarily at the very top of the standings, where the 49-14 Lakers hold a fairly comfortable lead on the 44-20 Clippers. The Lakers’ magic number to clinch the conference is just three, so they’re a safe bet to hang onto the No. 1 seed.

After that though, there’s some congestion in the standings. The Clippers’ lead on the Nuggets (43-22) is just 1.5 games. Denver holds an identical lead over the Jazz (41-23). Utah, meanwhile, is just a couple losses away from slipping down to the No. 6 seed, as the Thunder (40-24) and Rockets (40-24) are right on their heels. The 40-27 Mavericks round out this group of six teams, a game-and-a-half behind OKC and Houston and just 5.5 games behind the second-seeded Clippers.

A number of those six clubs bunched up in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture will face one another when play resumes. For instance, the Thunder – who have the potential to move up or down a couple spots in the standings – will open the restart against the Jazz and Nuggets and eventually finish their season against the Clippers. The Clips will face the Mavericks and Nuggets in addition to OKC. Dallas opens its eight seeding games by playing the Rockets.

Given the strength of competition in the West, seeding could be paramount in the postseason. The Nuggets, for example, could conceivably face the Jazz, Thunder, Rockets, or Mavs in the first round and would likely prefer some opponents to others in that group. The Jazz, currently at No. 4, could be motivated to avoid the No. 6 Rockets in the first round, since they’ve been eliminated by Houston in each of the previous two postseasons.

At the bottom of the playoff picture, the No. 8 Grizzlies (32-33) have essentially no chance to move up, since they’re seven games back of Dallas. But they’ll be looking to increase their lead over the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, and Suns — if they can finish with more than a four-game lead on all those clubs, they’ll avoid a play-in tournament. If the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds finish within four games of one another, a play-in tournament will be necessary to determine that final playoff spot.

A newly-healthy Blazers squad will be a major threat to the Grizzlies, as will a Pelicans team that faces one of the league’s weakest schedules over the course of the eight seeding games.

What do you think? Do you think we’ll see much movement in the Western Conference’s top eight? Will the Grizzlies be knocked out by one of the challengers behind them in the standings? What do you expect the West’s top eight seeds to look like by the time the playoffs begin?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your predictions!

Nuggets Expect Jokic To Join Team Within A Few Days

After a positive coronavirus test delayed his return to the United States, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is expected to join the team in Orlando in the coming days, head coach Mike Malone told reporters on Friday.

“The hope is that he will be here soon,” Malone told reporters, including ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk via Zoom after the team practiced. “I have spoken to him many times. I know he’s excited and looking forward to getting down here. He’s healthy, he feels great, hopefully he will be here soon in the next couple of days.”

The 25-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 in his native Serbia and needed two negative tests in the country before being able to join his teammates stateside. Jokic will need two negative tests in the United States before he can practice with the Nuggets. Jokic was asymptomatic at the time of his positive test and as Malone stated, he is in good health.

In 65 games before the pandemic shuttered play, Jokic was having a solid season, averaging a career-high 20.2 PPG to go along with 10.2 RPG for the Nuggets. The hope remains that Jokic can be at full health once the 2019/20 season resumes in Orlando.

New Nuggets GM Calvin Booth Details Process

Anthony, a 10-time All-Star with the Nuggets and Knicks, has averaged 15.3 PPG (while shooting 37.1% from long range and 84.3% from the charity stripe), 6.3 RPG and 1.6 APG for the Blazers. The 36-year-old was inked to the club as an injury replacement for Collins in November. Portland’s 29-37 record slots the team in as the No. 9 seed in the West.

  • New Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth is contemplating innovative approaches to remote scouting during the current pandemic, according to Alex Labidou of“All we’re trying to do is look for where inefficiencies are, where you can get value,” Booth said. “Even though as the years go on and as people get more and more interested in [scouting in] Europe and they are putting more resources into it, it’s still a landscape where you can find a gem.”

Jokic's Trip To Orlando Delayed

Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic did not join the team on its flight to Orlando on Tuesday due to COVID-19 testing protocols, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Jokic, who contracted the novel coronavirus in Serbia, needed two negative tests there and two more in the U.S. before he could join his teammates. Jokic had two negative tests in Serbia but a tight timeline prevented him from meeting those standards, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. Jokic can head to Orlando once he passes all those tests.

Nuggets Officially Name Calvin Booth GM

The Nuggets have officially announced what was first reported in April: Calvin Booth has been the named the team’s new general manager.

“Calvin is one of the brightest basketball minds in our league,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said in a statement. “We are very fortunate to have him as part of our organization and are extremely excited for his new role.”

Booth, who played in the NBA from 1999-2009, joined the Pelicans as a scout for the 2012/13 season, then spent four years with the Timberwolves, eventually ascending to the role of director of player personnel.

He had been an assistant general manager in Denver’s front office since 2017, moving up to claim the general manager position after the Nuggets’ previous GM – Arturas Karnisovas – departed to become the new head of basketball operations in Chicago.

Connelly will retain the final say on basketball decisions in Denver, but Booth figures to take on an expanded role in the team’s front office, given his new title. It’s not yet known if the Nuggets will hire any new executive(s) to fill the hole created by Booth’s promotion.

More Details On PJ Dozier's New Contract

  • PJ Dozier‘s new deal with the Nuggets is a three-year pact that was completed the team’s using mid-level exception, as Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights notes (via Twitter). It features minimum salaries in all three seasons, including about $183K this season and a partial guarantee of $1.2MM in 2020/21, for a total guarantee in the neighborhood of $1.4MM.

Malone Expects Jokic To Join Nuggets In Orlando

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said in a Zoom video conference call today that he anticipates the team’s lone All-Star, Nikola Jokic, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, will join Denver when the squad departs for Orlando next week, in comments captured by Nick Kosmider of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Malone acknowledged during the call that Denver’s practice facility is currently closed after there were “multiple” positive test results, but would not divulge which team personnel or players for the Nuggets tested positive, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Jokic is not yet stateside. The 25-year-old seven-footer has been residing in his native Serbia since the middle of June, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

“Next Tuesday, we depart for Orlando,” Malone said. “The hope and expectation is that Nikola Jokic will be with us on that plane.”

The 43-22 Nuggets are currently the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, behind the two star-studded Los Angeles clubs. This season, Jokic is averaging an eye-popping stat line of 20.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 6.9 APG.

Malone voiced his reservations about Disney employees being permitted to enter and depart the NBA’s proposed bubble — while NBA teams’ traveling parties are not — in an Orlando restart, per Kendra Andrews of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Nuggets head coach hopes that the NBA will make some adjustments to this component of the league’s un-pausing.

Three Members Of Nuggets Traveling Team Have Tested Positive For COVID-19

  • Among the Nuggets‘ anticipated team traveling party for the NBA’s Orlando restart, two members tested positive over the weekend and a third had a positive test since then, though all are presently asymptomatic, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The team closed its practice facility in response to the news. The Nuggets as an organization have been dealt with six COVID-19 cases since March.