Nuggets bring back a familiar face, keep adding to the bench in free agency

FIBA Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament -  New Zealand v Slovenia
FIBA Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament - New Zealand v Slovenia / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Shortly after using their taxpayer midlevel exception to sign Dario Saric, the Nuggets made another move and re-signed Vlatko Cancar to a minimum contract. The Saric signing put Denver above the first apron, so the team had nothing but minimum deals to offer, which is exactly what they did with Vlatko.

Vlatko Cancar back to the Nuggets

This was the expectation all along as Cancar has been with the Nuggets for the past five seasons. He was on his way to carving out a nice bench role before tearing his ACL and missing the entire 2023-24 season. The team declined his team option for next year, but clearly, the end goal was always to re-sign him to a new contract.

As has been discussed, the new deal - although still a minimum - is actually mutually beneficial as the team saves money while Cancar simultaneously gets a raise. Cancar recently returned to game action for the first time since his injury, appearing for team Slovenia in the Olympic qualifiers.

Cancar struggled in his return from injury

Nuggets GM Calvin Booth was in Greece attending those games along with Cancar’s agent. There was some speculation that the games were a bit of an audition for Cancar to re-sign with the Nuggets, but more likely Booth just wanted to see how he was holding up after injury. Physically, Cancar held up just fine on the court, but he showed some rust and struggled badly to shoot the ball.

Ultimately that obviously wasn’t a factor as Slovenia was eliminated from Olympic contention on Saturday and Cancar was officially signed to the Nuggets a few hours later. Despite his recent struggles, the idea is for Cancar to add some shooting and scoring to the Nuggets’ bench. He’s a capable big wing who plays with some real spunk.

The Nuggets actually have some versatility on the bench

He should be able to fit in nicely with Dario Saric and form a nice little offensive connection for the bench unit. The bench has been a huge concern for the Nuggets and the team has gotten thinner after losing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Jackson, and Justin Holiday. But in losing those guards, they have added a couple of nice bigs in Saric and draft pick DaRon Holmes. Now with Cancar back in the mix, they have a nice wing shooter to add to the mix.

It has definitely been a slow and frustrating offseason so far in Denver, but things are starting to come together. Hopefully, the team has one more move in them and can add one more solid bench option - ideally a backup point guard. The outlook for the Nuggets is improving by the day; patience is a virtue.