Denver Nuggets: Which of the veterans will return this offseason?

10 Apr. 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center DeMarcus Cousins (4) during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Ball Arena. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
10 Apr. 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center DeMarcus Cousins (4) during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Ball Arena. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The Denver Nuggets are entering the offseason with quite a set roster. The core of Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., and Jamal Murray is all under contract (once Jokic re-signs for the supermax) and supplementary pieces like Aaron Gordon, Monte Morris, and Will Barton are all locked up for next season.

Outside of major trades, the only moves the Nuggets will need to make are based around their veterans like DeMarcus Cousins, Austin Rivers, Facundo Campazzo, and Jeff Green.

Each of these players, with Green having a player option for next season, will be free agents and could leave Denver once free agency starts. As players likely signing for the veteran’s minimum, their free agency process isn’t as much about dollar amounts but playing time and opportunities to win.

Additionally, this offseason is the “biggest” one yet according to Michael Malone and with ownership signaling that they’re willing to dip into the luxury tax for the first time in more than a decade, things are getting interesting. And if the Nuggets project to be a luxury tax-paying team, having solid role players on minimum deals is essential.

Will DeMarcus Cousins re-sign with the Denver Nuggets?

The first of the veteran free agents might not even be looking for a veteran’s minimum: DeMarcus Cousins.

Boogie has bounced around the league in several stops after suffering major injuries across his career and the former 20-10 big man that the Sacramento Kings tried to build their team around is now a very efficient backup.

Cousins started the season with the Milwaukee Bucks, signing multiple ten-day deals before he eventually joined the Nuggets. The move worked well for both sides as DeMarcus eventually signed for the rest of the season and the move pushed Denver’s bench unit back into their natural positions.

It also gave Jokic a legitimate backup big and Malone wouldn’t lose leads whenever Nikola sat.

Boogie stepped up again in the First Round against the Golden State Warriors. In five games, Cousins averaged 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while shooting 66 percent from the floor and 67 percent from the 3-point line. The Warriors always struggle with talented big men and the tandem of Jokic and Cousins didn’t give the defense any rest.

Related Story. Why Bones and Boogie are a bench duo to fear. light

When it comes to free agency, backup big men are an abundant resource and the former Kentucky star might be squeezed by the market. If he wants to carry this strong second-half showing into free agency, the Nuggets could just offer him the minimum and predict that nobody out there is going above that.

Harrison Wind, DNVR Sports, asked Denver’s GM, Calvin Booth, about Boogie’s free agency and he didn’t act as if it were a top priority:

While it’s a rough outlook for a player who has been decimated by injuries, it’s understandable that the Nuggets aren’t prioritizing the 31-year-old backup big.

Will DeMarcus Cousins return to the Denver Nuggets? In my opinion, yes. If he wants to look around the league and try and find a better situation, one with the opportunity to start, he won’t find a better team out there to do so.

Barring Denver making a trade to address the backup center position, the Nuggets should re-sign Cousins for a one-year veteran’s minimum.