Every NBA contender has to shell out a lot of money to be able to be a successful team. The Golden State Warriors are a great example of this, as they have had some of the worst cap sheets in NBA history. The Denver Nuggets are no different, as last season, the Denver Nuggets had multiple players making over $30 million.
The Denver Nuggets had a negative standing in the salary cap, which is okay. They were in the luxury tax, which is very normal for contending teams like the Nuggets. NBA superstars are given millions upon millions of dollars every season for their teams, which is okay. Nikola Jokić’s $33.6 million last year was approximately 27.19% of Denver’s cap space, and that number will increase every year with the lucrative extension he signed last year.
Just like every NBA contender needs to hand out a lot of money to be able to get star players, the same must be said to have a “good contract” on their books. Whether it be a rookie contract or a player signed to a contract that they are worth a lot more than, having a player with a great contract really can help the team.
Looking at one of the NBA’s best contracts, we look at the Utah Jazz. Lauri Markkanen will make $17.2 million this season and $18 million next year, with next season being partially guaranteed. With Markkanen being an All-Star and the NBA’s Most Improved Player last year, his salary is way under his actual value. It’s hard to believe the Jazz wouldn’t offer anything less than the max for Markkanen when he is extension-eligible.
The Denver Nuggets may not have an absolute bargain of a contract like the Jazz do with Markkanen, but either way, they still do have a player on their books that is worth more than what they signed for.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a great choice for this, as he will be making $14.7 million this season. His impact on the team is a lot more than what the box score shows. Even though he really only takes shots out on the perimeter, his defense is great. He’s always guarding the opposing team’s best guards.
KCP probably will decline his player option after this season is over, but there is a great chance that he will re-sign with the Denver Nuggets on a moderately priced contract. He’s a great player and definitely deserves a bit more money than he’s making this season, but he is not Denver’s best bargain contract.
Jokić is making a lot of money and has one of the biggest contracts in NBA history. He will make $47.6 million this season, and he deserves every penny of that deal. Given that he’s on a max contract and cannot have made any more money, giving him the title of Denver’s best contract is unrealistic.
The same goes for Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. Both signed max contracts after their rookie deal, so like Jokić, having them as the Nuggets’ best contract is not realistic.
Who is Denver’s best contract then? This player was one of the most versatile defenders last season and was one of the better defenders in the playoffs as well. Some may have considered him a bust to start his career considering how high he was drafted, but he quickly turned that around and has been one of the best players last season.
Aaron Gordon is the Denver Nuggets’ best contract
Aaron Gordon is making $22.6 million this season, which is a great contract considering he could have been an All-Star last season. His secondary playmaking at the power forward spot is really underrated, as he can always make the extra pass out of the post.
Gordon also shot a solid 34.7 percent from beyond the arc last season, which was almost a career high. He shot a career high 56.4 percent from the field, though, which was a career high by more than four percent.
Gordon could be an All-Star this year and definitely has a strong case to do so. Now that the Denver Nuggets have a lot more respect for their name after winning a title, Gordon should also get more respect now, too.
Aaron Gordon has still got two more years at least on his contract, and it’s hard to see him wanting to leave Denver with the success they’ve had as well as his production being at an all-time high. As soon as he’s available for a contract extension, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be handed out a new deal.
Gordon has really revived his career in Denver, which is really impressive to say. A lot of people rid him off as a bust, but now that he’s a champion and one of the better power forwards in the league, those naysayers are gone.