With the 2022 NBA Draft behind us, the Denver Nuggets are entering one of the more important offseasons in franchise history as new-instated GM Calvin Booth looks to surround the core of Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., and Jamal Murray with a title-worthy roster.
The Denver Nuggets drafted two players late in the first round at the 2022 NBA Draft, bringing their total roster size to 11 (assuming the team picks up Zeke Nnaji’s team option). I’ve left Ismael Kamagate off the roster as he’s reportedly going to be a draft-and-stash prospect.
There are four available roster spots for opening night of the 2022-23 season, here’s how Denver can acquire those players.
What draft picks can the Denver Nuggets trade?
Draft picks are a really good way to buff up outgoing trade value, especially for competing teams who are focused on winning as much as possible in the present, ignoring the future.
Being the offseason, we’re seeing plenty of fake trades and hypotheticals being thrown all around reports and Tweets with picks going everywhere. It can sometimes be really hard to track when you start mentioning the protections but here’s what firsts the Denver Nuggets can trade this offseason:
2029 first-round pick. That’s it.
After trading away their 2027 first-round pick in the JaMychal Green salary dump, the Denver Nuggets are down to moving one future first-round pick until next season.
This is because of the Stepien Rule, limiting front offices to not trading first-round picks in consecutive drafts. Teams work around this by trading their own first-round pick on draft day since they technically did keep their pick, they just didn’t keep the player it selected.
Additionally, teams can trade swap rights for their own picks, so what Denver can offer looks more like this:
- 2024 first-round pick swap rights,
- 2026 first-round pick swap rights,
- 2028 first-round pick swap rights;
- and their 2029 first-round pick.
This is on top of the second-round picks they still own but I’ll leave them out for now.
Unfortunately for Denver, a team isn’t going to see that list and think they’re getting four picks. Since the Nuggets have a very strong young core, it’s likely that those pick swaps wouldn’t even convey. I get into this more when talking about a potential Dejounte Murray trade.
What players can the Denver Nuggets trade?
The Denver Nuggets can trade any player on their roster outside of players they have just drafted, signed, re-signed, or traded for. Building on that, they’re most likely not trading one of the big three in Jokic, Murray, and MPJ, but you never know.
Currently, Monte Morris is available in trade talks and he’s receiving “great trade interest” according to Mike Singer, The Denver Post.
On top of that, Will Barton, the longest-tenured Denver Nugget, is one player who has been mocked going to several teams on Twitter but as of this moment, there are no concrete reports about Will the Thrill leaving Colorado via trade.
How can the Denver Nuggets use the taxpayer mid-level exception?
The luxury tax for the 2022-23 season is set at $149 million according to Shams Charania, The Athletic, meaning if a team goes over that figure, they’ll be paying a tax based on how far over they are and how many years they’ve been over.
After trading away JaMychal Green, the Denver Nuggets were right around $149 million, and by re-signing veterans and signing rookies, the Nuggets will be well over that figure. Meaning that they’ll be in the luxury tax for the first time in a long time.
Because of this (and barring any major salary-dodging trade), Denver will only have access to the taxpayer mid-level exception worth $6.39 million. Denver can offer this annual figure up to a four-year deal to free agents this offseason for free essentially, meaning it doesn’t have any cap ramifications.
This contract is the most-likely deal the Nuggets will be offering players like Gary Harris, Otto Porter Jr., Thaddeus Young, and Victor Oladipo, among others. These are a few names who might be in the taxpayer MLE conversation, but we won’t know who’s available until free agency starts and teams start calling.
If a player (like Gary Harris) is being offered multiple deals at the taxpayer MLE, it’ll come down to the player and which situation they value most. That’s where Calvin Booth has to really sell his franchise for the first time this offseason.
Which players can the Denver Nuggets re-sign?
Facundo Campazzo, Austin Rivers, Vlatko Cancar, and DeMarcus Cousins are all free agents on 1 July 2022 and while they could sign a new deal with any NBA (or international) team, there seems to be enough from most players to warrant a new contract.
It’s looking like Campazzo will leave Denver, either for another NBA team or back to Europe, while the other three are candidates to be re-signed on the veteran’s minimum. The minimum salary is a pre-set figure based on how many years of service the player has so there’s no negotiation to be had.
As Dominic Hampton, Nugg Love pointed out a week ago, if Cousins is only being offered minimums across the league, he’ll have to put more stock in the role he’ll play and it’s looking like Denver has the most enticing role for Boogie in free agency.
If a team is right up against the salary cap or hard cap, they’re still legally allowed to sign minimum contracts. This is so a team, no matter how expensive the rest of their roster might be, can still field a roster of players.