Nuggets Rumors

Nuggets Notes: Harris, Bol, Cook

Gary Harris is primed for a bounce-back season with the Nuggets after injuries marred his 2018/19 campaign, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic writes. Harris was only able to play in 57 regular-season games last season. Harris shot 40.2% from long range in the last 21 games of the regular season and averaged 14.2 PPG in the postseason, Kosmider notes. Coach Michael Malone has praised Harris for his consistency and the shooting guard has a capable backup in Malik Beasley, which gives Malone the luxury of resting Harris more often prior to the playoffs, Kosmider adds.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • They would prefer to have second-round pick Bol Bol sign a two-way contract in order to stay below the luxury tax line, as Albert Nahmad details. A two-way deal instead of a $898K minimum-salary contract with Bol would give them a little more elbow room as opposed to being less than 100K under the line. If Bol doesn’t want a two-way, the team would have to issue him that minimum deal by September 5 to make him a restricted free agent. Bol would have until October 15 to accept the offer. The team is currently $979K below the tax line, though that figures excludes some unlikely bonuses for Harris  and Paul Millsap, Nahmad adds (Twitter links here).
  • Undrafted forward Tyler Cook currently holds the other two-way spot and he has no illusions about making an impact in his rookie year, according to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic. Like most two-way players, Cook will try to hone his skills in the G League for a majority of the season. “I’m a rookie and I understand that,” Cook said. “I’m coming into an established group and so I want to be able to do whatever I can do, whatever they ask me to do to help them win.”
  • According to a rookie survey, Bol was a steal in this year’s draft. Get more details here.

Peers Choose Zion, Morant As Top Rookie Of Year Candidates

Top pick Zion Williamson of the Pelicans is considered the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award by his peers, but he’s not a clear-cut choice. The second pick in the draft, point guard Ja Morant of the Grizzlies, finished a close second in the voting. However, that might not be such a good thing for either player.

For the 11th time in 13 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been soothsayers. They haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Last season, Deandre Ayton and Collin Sexton were considered the co-favorites. Luka Doncic ended up winning the award with Trae Young finishing a solid second.

Here’s some of the highlights from the survey:

  • Williamson got 35% of the vote for the Rookie of the Year prize, while Morant received 27% backing. No one else got more than 5%.
  • Nuggets second-round pick Bol Bol and Cavaliers’ late first-rounder Kevin Porter Jr. were considered the steals of the draft, with each getting 19% of the vote.
  • Two players stood out to their peers as being the best defenders in the draft — the Sixers’ Matisse Thybulle and the Hawks’ De’Andre Hunter. Thybulle collected 37% of the votes in that category, while Hunter received 29% backing.
  • By a wide margin, Williamson was chosen as the most athletic rookie, garnering 87% of the votes. Morant was selected as the best ball-handler, receiving 40% of those votes.
  • The Heat‘s Tyler Herro (33%) edged out the Kings’ Kyle Guy (29%) as the best shooter.
  • LeBron James (38%) got the highest total in the ‘Favorite player in the league’ category with Kevin Durant (20%) finishing second.

Beasley Secretive About His Workout; Bol Talks About Players He Watches

  • Nuggets guard Malik Beasley is keeping his summer routine a secret as he works to follow up his breakthrough season, relays Alex Labidou of NBA.com. During the 2018/19 campaign, Beasley raised his scoring average from 3.2 to 11.3 PPG and improved his long-distance shooting to 40.2%. “If I can make through this season without being injured, that’s the first thing. I’m good with that,” Beasley said. “Everything will fall into place from the hard work this summer.”
  • Nuggets rookie Bol Bol covers a wide range of topics — basketball and otherwise — in an interview with Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype. Bol says Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis is among his favorite players and he tries to learn from watching him, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis.

Nuggets Sign Tyler Cook To Two-Way Contract

The Nuggets have filled one of their two-way contract slots by signing undrafted forward Tyler Cook to a two-way deal, the team announced today in a press release.

Cook, who entered the draft this spring after his junior year at Iowa, averaged 14.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 2.4 APG in 33 games (30.8 MPG) in 2018/19, while shooting 51.9% from the field. After recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered during a pre-draft workout, the 21-year-old joined Denver for Summer League action, playing limited minutes in three games.

Although Cook’s Summer League numbers (4.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG) were modest, his athleticism and play-making impressed the Nuggets, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Cook’s deal with Denver was first reported in June, with Singer indicating earlier today that it was expected to be a two-way contract.

The Nuggets now have 14 players on guaranteed contracts, Cook on a two-way contract, and PJ Dozier on a non-guaranteed camp deal. That leaves four offseason roster spots open, including a two-way slot. Second-round pick Bol Bol is believed to be the leading candidate for that second two-way deal, though it’s still possible Denver will make him the 15th man on the regular season roster.

Nuggets Sign PJ Dozier

AUGUST 13: The Nuggets have officially signed Dozier to a training camp contract, the team announced today in a press release.

AUGUST 12: The Nuggets have reached a one-year deal with guard PJ Dozier, Adrian Wojnarowksi of ESPN tweets.

Dozier had a two-way contract with the Celtics last season and excelled at the G League level. He made the All-G League Third Team as a member of the Maine Red Claws.

The Nuggets have some open roster spots. They have 14 guaranteed contracts as well as the reported signing of Tyler Cook and unsigned second-round pick Bol Bol. Both of their two-way slots are available.

Dozier can’t get an Exhibit 10 bonus since the Nuggets don’t own a G League franchise, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Dozier became a free agent when the Celtics declined to extend him a qualifying offer. The 6’6” combo guard appeared in six games with Boston last season, averaging 3.2 PPG and 2.8 RPG. The South Carolina product averaged 21.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 6.7 APG in 35.3 MPG over 46 games in the G League.

He appeared in two games with Oklahoma City the previous season.

Two-Way Deal Likely For Nuggets’ Bol Bol?

Since the NBA introduced two-way contracts in the 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement, no rookie drafted higher than No. 49 has signed one. However, Nuggets center Bol Bol – this year’s No. 44 overall pick – appears likely to fill one of Denver’s two-way slots, a source tells Nick Kosmider of The Athletic.

The Nuggets currently have an open spot on their projected 15-man regular season roster, as well as two open two-way contract slots. While it’s possible Bol will sign a standard deal and become Denver’s 15th man, Kosmider suggests the team seems content to keep that roster spot open for now, perhaps saving it for a third point guard, a trade deadline acquisition, or another purpose.

As Kosmider explains, Bol may not be ready to make an NBA impact as a rookie, since he missed much of last year with a left foot injury and still needs to put on weight. If he were on a two-way deal, he’d be able to work with the Nuggets’ development coaches and training staff while coming along slowly in the G League. If he shows he’s capable of contributing at the NBA level, the 7’2″ youngster could be elevated to the standard roster.

The Nuggets have a history of promoting promising two-way players to their standard roster — Torrey Craig and Monte Morris, who are now key rotation pieces in Denver, spent the 2017/18 season on two-way deals.

Still, signing a two-way contract (which has a base salary starting at about $80K) would be a disappointing turn of events for Bol, who was considered a probable lottery pick at this time last year. If his camp is resisting a two-way deal, that may explain why he’s one of just four 2019 draftees who is still unsigned.

Even if Bol signs a two-way contract, it remains to be seen how the Nuggets will fill their second two-way slot, writes Kosmider. Mike Singer of The Denver Post suggests that Tyler Cook will likely get a two-way deal, while Kosmider believes that other training camp invitees, including PJ Dozier, may get the opportunity to compete for that spot.

Poll: Which Team Will Win Northwest In 2019/20?

On Friday, we explored whether the Clippers, Lakers, or Warriors look like the favorites to win the Pacific Division in 2019/20. However, the Pacific isn’t the only Western Conference division that figures to be hotly contested.

Over in the Northwest, four of five teams made the postseason in 2018/19, with Denver (54-28) edging out Portland (53-29), Utah (50-32), and Oklahoma City (49-33) for the division crown.

Heading into next season, the Thunder appear likely to take a step back. That’s not a certainty, since there’s still plenty of talent on the roster, but losing Paul George and Russell Westbrook will hurt. They’re a long shot to win the Northwest, and so are the Timberwolves, the only Northwest team to miss the playoffs last season. With Jimmy Butler long gone, the ’19/20 season should be a little more smooth and drama-free in Minnesota, but the team is still a ways off from legit contention.

That leaves three teams that look like strong contenders to win the division next season, led by the Nuggets. After finishing atop the Northwest this spring, the Nuggets retained all their key contributors and added a couple more intriguing pieces. Jerami Grant was acquired in a trade with Oklahoma City and projects to be a go-to frontcourt option. Denver is also optimistic that 2018 lottery pick Michael Porter will be healthy and ready to claim a spot in the rotation in his sophomore season.

Of course, in the Western Semifinals, the Nuggets fell to the Trail Blazers, who seem to be perennially underrated by oddsmakers. Portland’s over/under for the 2019/20 is just 46.5 wins, per betting site BetOnline.ag. After topping their projected win total by about 10 games last season, the Blazers will look to outperform expectations again in 2019/20, led by Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Jusuf Nurkic won’t be ready to start the season, but Portland fortified its frontcourt by adding centers Hassan Whiteside and Pau Gasol.

Meanwhile, the Jazz might have had the best offseason of any Northwest team, having acquired standout point guard Mike Conley to join Donovan Mitchell in their backcourt. With veteran role players like Ed Davis and Jeff Green joining the mix, and Mitchell expected to take another step forward, this may be the best Utah team of the last few years, and the club hasn’t won fewer than 48 games since 2015/16.

What do you think? Which team do you expect to sit atop the Northwest Division when the regular season ends? And will that team make a deep playoff run, perhaps even reaching the NBA Finals?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Four 2019 NBA Draft Picks Remain Unsigned

We’re about a month and a half removed from the 2019 NBA draft, and the contract statuses of 56 of the 60 players selected on that night have been determined.

As our list of draft pick signings shows, 53 players – 29 first-round picks and 24 second-rounders – have signed contracts with their new NBA teams. Three more players – Didi Louzada (Pelicans), Deividas Sirvydis (Pistons), and Vanja Marinkovic (Kings) – will reportedly spend the 2019/20 season overseas in various international leagues.

That leaves just four players whose contract situation for ’19/20 remains up in the air. Those players are as follows:

  1. Orlando Magic: Chuma Okeke, F (Auburn)
  2. Denver Nuggets: Bol Bol, C (Oregon)
  3. Charlotte Hornets: Jalen McDaniels, F (San Diego State)
  4. Brooklyn Nets: Jaylen Hands, G (UCLA)

Okeke is the lone 2019 first-rounder who remains unsigned, and it’s probably not just a coincidence that he’s the last one to ink his rookie contract. He tore his ACL in March and is expected to miss a good chunk – if not all – of his rookie season. While virtually every first-round pick signs for 120% of his rookie scale amount, the Cavaliers were able to get Kevin Porter for lower than that earlier in the offseason — it’s possible the Magic are exploring a similar deal with Okeke.

Bol, meanwhile, figures to sign with the Nuggets eventually. The team still has a projected opening on its 15-man regular season roster, plus a pair of open two-way contract slots. I’d expect Bol to sign a standard deal, but the two sides will have to reach an agreement on the years, dollars, and guarantee amounts. Since Denver has its full mid-level exception available, a variety of options are on the table.

As for McDaniels and Hands, they look like strong candidates to sign two-way contracts. Both the Nets and Hornets have an open two-way slot, and players selected in the 50-60 range frequently end up on two-way deals. While Brooklyn already has 15 players on guaranteed contracts, Charlotte is only carrying 13, so it’s possible a regular season roster spot is still in play for McDaniels.

Cancar Will Have Tough Time Securing Minutes

Vlatko Cancar will have plenty of competition at the forward spots but the 22-year-old could help the Nuggets in a variety of ways, as Eric Spyropoulos of the team’s website details. While playing on Denver’s summer league team for two years, Cancar has shown that he can handle the ball, knock down outside shots and battle in the lane. He doesn’t bring elite mobility at the defensive end but he uses his basketball IQ and awareness to position himself well, Spyropoulos adds.

Cancar, a 2017 second-round pick who spent the last two seasons overseas, signed a three-year contract. The first two years are guaranteed and the Nuggets used part of their mid-level exception to secure him, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. They are now $979K below the luxury tax line, Marks adds.

  • Nuggets rookie big man Bol Bol has moved around quite a bit for a 19-year-old but he feels at home in Denver, as he told Kendra Andrews of The Athletic“I’m happy to be here,” Bol said. “I really like the city. I’m happy to be in a bigger city again.”

Julius Randle Out Of World Cup; Torrey Craig Joining Select Team

Team USA lost another star today as Julius Randle announced that he won’t be competing for a spot on the FIBA World Cup squad, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN. He cited an unspecified family issue for the decision.

Randle, who signed with the Knicks last month, was a late addition to camp, receiving an invitation 11 days ago along with the CelticsJaylen Brown after several high-profile players declined the opportunity. With competition for 12 roster spots to begin Monday, it’s not clear if there’s time to find a replacement for Randle.

A move was also made to the Select Team that will scrimmage against those players in Las Vegas. Torrey Craig of the Nuggets was chosen to replace Landry Shamet of the Clippers, who announced yesterday that he won’t be participating.

Players will report to camp tomorrow and the battle for roster spots will run through Thursday. The World Cup will take place from August 31 to September 15 in China.