May 1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Denver Nuggets point guard Andre Miller (24) goes in for a basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of game two of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Breaking Down The Nuggets Free Agents


It will be an interesting offseason for the Denver Nuggets as they try to keep their young squad together.

Luckily enough only Andre Miller, JaVale McGee and Rudy Fernandez are set to hit the free agent market, with McGee and Fernandez both being restricted free agents – allowing the Nuggets to match an offer if they so wish.

Timofey Mozgov ($3.14 million) and little used point guard Julyan Stone ($762,000) also have contracts that are partially guaranteed, but it is highly unlikely that the Nuggets would release either player since neither have a big contract. Denver should have around $10 to $12 million of cap room, which will give them a little flexibility.

McGee, who the Nuggets acquired in a trade for Nene, is arguably Denver’s most important free agent. In 20 games with the Nuggets, McGee averaged 10.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a contest. He also averaged 8.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in the playoffs and had a breakout performance in Game 5 when he scored 21 points, 14 rebounds and outplayed Andrew Bynum.

What makes McGee, who is only 24, such a valuable asset is his length and athleticism. He stands 7-foot-0 and carries a wingspan of 7-6. He also weighs 252 points and has a body that could put on at least 20 more pounds. His size alone makes him a major factor on the defensive side of the ball.

Now where it gets tricky for the Nuggets is McGee’s asking price. Back in March, he told the Washington Wizards he wanted $14 million a year. It is doubtful a team will offer McGee that large of a contract and Denver can’t afford to overpay McGee since they also want to sign Ty Lawson to a contract extension.

However, Denver’s general manager Masai Ujiri has said his main goal is re-signing McGee, but the question is what is the right price for the athletic big man?

Last season, Nene, Tyson Chandler, Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan all signed multi-year deals.

  • Nene re-upped with the Nuggets for $65 million for 5 years.
  • Gasol agreed to a $57.5 million for 4 years with the Grizzlies.
  • Chandler got $55.4 million for 4 years from the Knicks.
  • Jordan signed a $43 million for 4 years to re-sign with the Clippers.

Of the four, a deal similar to what Jordan received is probably the fairest for McGee due to his age and how raw he is. McGee has a better all-around game, but the two are of similar age (McGee is two years older) and style.

There is also a chance that McGee isn’t happy with Denver’s offer and decides instead to take the 1-year qualifying offer, which would allow him to be an unrestricted free agent next season. It’s doubtful that Denver will let it come to that.

If McGee does sign elsewhere and the Nuggets don’t match, they could turn their sights on Kevin Garnett, Chris Kaman, Spencer Hawes or Jason Thompson.

 

Dec 26, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets shooting guard Rudy Fernandez (5) drives the lane against the Dallas Mavericks during the fourth quarter at the American Airlines Center. The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks 115-93. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Of the three free agents, Fernandez is the most expendable. He missed most of last season and the Nuggets already have swingman Wilson Chandler and Jordan Hamilton under contract and both could easily take his minutes. When he played Fernandez brought energy into the game and was a big part of Denver’s bench brigade. If he does come back it would be most likely be for the $3.2 million qualifying offer if that is available,that is if the Nuggets offer it. Fernandez could also opt to play overseas, which was the rumor last season.

 

Miller is another player that may not be back. He wasn’t happy playing second-fiddle to Ty Lawson and wants to pursue a starting job. There are at least nine different teams that could need a point guard and Miller’s gutsy performance in the playoffs could help him find a starting gig. The Nuggets would love to have him back, he brought veteran savvy to the squad and had the size to play next to Lawson. If Miller does leave, the Nuggets could sign Kirk Hinrich, Shaun Livingston, Jonny Flynn or Daniel Gibson.

Tags: Andre Miller Andrew Bynum Chris Kaman Daniel Gibson DeAndre Jordan Denver Nuggets Featured Jason Thompson JaVale McGee Jonny Flynn Jordan Hamilton Julyan Stone Kevin Garnett Kirk Hinrich Marc Gasol Masai Ujiri Nene Popular Rudy Fernandez Shaun Livingston Spencer Hawes Timofey Mozgov Ty Lawson Tyson Chandler Washington Wizards Wilson Chandler