Ranking the 5 Nuggets starters' contracts from bargain to nightmare

Mar 9, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts
Mar 9, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) reacts / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 2 years $30 million: Incredible bargain

The fact that four of the Nuggets’ five starters have a contract that is considered at worst, a bargain speaks to why the team is so good and the starting lineup is so dominant. KCP has become an incredible NBA veteran who contributes to winning on both ends.

He’s a great glue guy who can credibly run the offense and play point guard or spot up and shoot open threes playing off the ball. He doesn’t have to be involved in the action, but he’s more than capable when called upon.

More impressively, he’s turned himself into an elite defensive player on the perimeter. He was an underrated part of the Lakers’ championship run in the bubble and it’s no coincidence that the team got much worse after trading him (and others) for Russell Westbrook.

Landing Caldwell-Pope from the Wizards was an incredible move by the Nuggets, as he fit like a glove, and proved to be a missing piece of sorts that helped push them over the top. He’s not the reason they won it all, but he was a big part, and I’m not sure they pull it off without him.

Having a player like that in the starting lineup making just $14.7 million this season is unbelievable value. He’ll have a player option this offseason for $15.4 million that he’ll most likely decline. He’s 31 years old and with the way he’s been playing, he should have the opportunity to cash in on one more big contract while he has some prime years left.

Hopefully, the Nuggets will be able to keep him, but I imagine there will be a big market for his services, as he’d be a great two-way fit on just about any team in the league, and if asked, could likely do much more than is necessary for Denver.

This may be another Bruce Brown situation where the player has simply performed too well and priced themselves out of the Nuggets’ future. That would undoubtedly be a shame, but it would be hard to begrudge the player, especially if he helps the Nuggets win two titles in two seasons.