5 Denver Nuggets who definitely won't be back next season

After faling short in their title defense, the Nuggets are looking in the mirror will be forced to answer some difficult questions this offseason
May 6, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1)
May 6, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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The Nuggets’ season came to a gut-wrenching end on Sunday night as they lost Game 7 at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Thus ends the title defense for the Nuggets, going out in disappointing fashion. The team rebounded from an 0-2 hole in the series to take a 3-2 lead but they got demolished in Game 6, then blew the biggest halftime lead in Game 7 history to lose the series.

Denver led by 15 at half (the previous high in a Game 7 loss was 11) and actually pushed it up to 20 in the third quarter before the wheels completely fell off. There is no shame in losing to the Timberwolves, who look like they may be on their way to a title of their own. Repeating as NBA champions is also an incredibly difficult task, especially in a loaded Western Conference.

But at the same time, the Nuggets’ stars were absolutely exhausted by the end of this series and the supplemental stars and role players weren’t able to give them any help. This loss exposed some warts with the Nuggets roster that need fixing. 

The team has the best player in the world, Nikola Jokic under contract for four more years, but he’ll turn 30 next season and he’s won three of the last four MVP awards. There’s no telling how many years of Jokic’s prime are left and the Nuggets can’t afford to squander a single one. 

The Nuggets still have one of the best teams, but their depth was a major issue, the team is strapped for assets, and the rest of the West is just going to get better. This will likely lead to major changes this coming offseason. The Nuggets are going to have to make some hard decisions and take some risks to make sure this team is better suited to win a title next season. That means we are going to be saying goodbye to some familiar faces.

5. The Nuggets aren’t going to be able to retain Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

This one is going to hurt. KCP has established himself as an excellent wing defender, a capable shooter and secondary scorer, and most of all a steadying veteran presence who contributes to winning. Every team would love to have a guy like Kentavious, and unfortunately for the Nuggets, that’s the problem.

Caldwell-Pope has a player option this offseason for $15.4 million but he will almost certainly decline that. KCP will be a hot commodity on the open market and should easily be able to sign a lucrative long-term deal worth more money per season than he’d make with his option.

He’s 31 years old, which means he probably has one more shot at a big payday on a longer deal and there will likely never be a better opportunity for him to cash in than there is right now. 

The team will do everything they can to keep KCP in Denver, but with Jokic and MPJ already on the books for big money and Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon being up for big extensions this summer, they can only go so high for Caldwell-Pope.