1 Thing Nuggets must add if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope departs in free agency

May 16, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) falls on Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) in the third quarter during game six of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
May 16, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) falls on Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) in the third quarter during game six of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports / Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
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Perhaps the biggest threat facing the Nuggets this offseason is the possibility of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope leaving the team in free agency. KCP has a player option for $15.4 million for 2024-25 that he must choose to exercise or decline by June 29th. 

Unfortunately for the Nuggets, all indications have been that Caldwell-Pope is likely to decline the option and test unrestricted free agency. He’ll be coveted by a number of contending teams as he may be one of the best players to actually hit the market. He can provide elite defense on the perimeter and solid offense with steady shooting and spacing.


Almost any team would love to add what KCP has to offer and that’s why he’s almost certain to get a multi-year offer worth north of $20 million in annual value. The Nuggets do have his Bird rights, so they will definitely still be in the mix to bring him back even if he opts out, but the finances could quickly get pretty tricky.

As much as it would hurt, the Nuggets need to be prepared for the reality of life after Kentavious. He’d be almost impossible to replace given the Nuggets' shortage of available funds and appealing assets. They’d have minimum contracts, late draft picks, and a taxpayer’s midlevel exception to work with, and that’s really it.

The Nuggets must target shooters this offseason

There is no way they’ll be able to add a player as good as Caldwell-Pope and that’s without even accounting for his veteran presence and championship poise and experience. The wings the Nuggets have drafted in recent years have proven they can at least defend in the NBA, but the team lacks shooting around Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Michael Porter Jr. can shoot, but they were 25th in three-pointers made this season and that’s just not going to cut it.

If KCP leaves, that would remove one of their best three-point shooters from the starting lineup. Either in the draft or in free agency, the Nuggets will have to address that hole. They should look at sharpshooters with at least respectable defensive chops. Again, they’re unlikely to find a 1:1 replacement for Caldwell-Pope, but there is a chance they could find a better high-volume shooter.

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