The Denver Nuggets had finalized their offseason, filling out all 15 roster spots but this news asks questions about what’s next. Should Denver waive the point guard and offer him a G League contract? Should they ride it out and keep him on a two-way spot?
Mike Jensen, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the guard is out “indefinitely” but hopes to return to the court in five-to-six months.
The Denver Nuggets addressed many depth concerns this offseason, adding a range of 3-and-D wings and forwards to a roster that needed that skillset. Unfortunately, to do that, the Nuggets sacrificed some of their guard depth and Gillespie might have seen consistent playing time.
Jamal Murray is likely starting at point guard but when he rests for injury management, Denver only has Bones Hyland and Ish Smith at that spot. For the regular season, that’s passable but it would’ve been nice to have another pass-first guard in if needed.
Mike Singer, The Denver Post reports that it’s currently “unclear” how the Nuggets will proceed with the two-way player.
Domino effects of Collin Gillespie’s injury for the Denver Nuggets
Gillespie could only play half of Denver’s regular season games given his two-way status. Still, we’ve seen the Nuggets weaponize these contracts in the past, using it to try out Davon Reed before officially signing him.
Assuming Murray rests at least 20 games this next season (arbitrary number but possibly accurate), Michael Malone might have leaned more on his young guard. If everything broke right, he might have made a roster spot instead, potentially replacing Smith if he doesn’t stick with the team.
My guess is that the Denver Nuggets keep Collin Gillespie on his two-way spot with the intention of retaining him the following offseason, giving him another chance. He’ll be healthy before the close of the regular season but it’d be a big ask for a rookie to come up to game speed in the business end of the season.
This could lead to the front office keeping Jamal in for more games than they initially planned to. This shouldn’t be an issue as we’re more than 12 months removed from his ACL injury and the further away we are, the less injury risk there is.
Another ripple effect is that we see Ish Smith more than he might have been predicted to initially. He was included in the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope trade to make the money and roster spots work but he’s a sturdy veteran who knows how to anchor a second unit in the NBA. Plus, Malone loves trusting his vets, here’s more of that.
In terms of the Denver Nuggets, this injury doesn’t impact them too much. In terms of Gillespie’s career, it’s horrible news for a guard finally making the leap to the NBA.
The Denver Nuggets have prided themselves on being a player-friendly team, offering richer contracts earlier than necessary and investing in youth development. A lot of these traits started with Tim Connelly but if the theory is still there, Calvin Booth might see this as a way to double down on the young guard, helping him recover within the Denver Nuggets organization and come back stronger.