Denver Nuggets Offseason: Patience over panic, the case for running it back

Rumors are swirling about trades and free agents, but the best course of action for the Nuggets is likely the safest one; running it back again.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven / C. Morgan Engel/GettyImages

The sudden ending to the Nuggets' season in the second round of the Western Conference Semifinals was disappointing, but not necessarily a reason to panic. Winning back-to-back titles in the NBA is extremely difficult to do, and Denver ran into some bad luck along the way. All in all, they were really a few breaks away from getting back to the promised land this season.

Calvin Booth even went as far as to say to Kevin O’Connor for the Ringer, that the team was looking to build a dynasty, rather than winning back-to-back rings. This is certainly a risky approach, but one that could pay dividends in the long run. The Nuggets chose to stick with young players and hope for internal growth around their elite starting lineup.

Can the Nuggets stick to that approach?

The team definitely didn’t get the growth they hoped for from young players like Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Zeke Nnaji, and Julian Strawther. All of those guys had nice moments, but there were no big surprise leaps and consistency was a constant issue. Other than Braun, none of the young players were even in the playoff rotation against the Timberwolves.

While it may not be what Nuggets fans want to hear, giving those guys one more year to carve out a role is probably best for the team. The rest of the roster is very expensive and it’s going to be hard, and potentially damaging, to make a move for depth. The Nuggets are just going to hope that each of these guys take a step forward and become everyday contributors.

 Can the Nuggets bring back the same starting lineup?

They certainly can and the most likely outcome is that they do everything in their power to make it a reality. Nikola Jokic is signed long-term, as is Michael Porter Jr., but Aaron Gordon and Jamal Murray have just one year left. The team will likely look to get extensions done with both as quickly as possible.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the name to monitor. He’s sure to opt out of his $15 million player option and become an unrestricted free agent. I imagine the Nuggets will do their best to keep KCP, but there is likely a threshold to what they can reasonably pay and there’s a chance Denver is priced out of the market.

That would be a crushing blow to the Nuggets who would have little means to replace a key starter next season, which may lead to the team looking at possible MPJ trades. There are a lot of dominos to fall, but the most realistic path back to a title for the Nuggets right now is probably trying to keep everyone together for another run at it.