The Denver Nuggets are armed with close to $46 million in cap space heading into the NBA offseason. When the NBA free agency window does open July 1, expect the Nuggets to aggressively pursue a short list of “difference makers.”
Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly joined The Vic Lombardi Show on Altitude radio Tuesday morning to discuss Denver’s plan of attack with the June 22 draft coming up and free agency right around the corner.
Connelly offered some insight into the team’s strategy — while adding that the emergence of Nikola Jokic could help convince players to come to Denver.
“I think we will dive in for a couple guys,” Connelly told Lombardi. “Certainly our own guys are extremely important, and they’re going to take priority. There are two or three guys who we’re going to be extremely aggressive with.
“What we don’t want to do is sign guys to sign guys, overpay for role players. There are a couple guys who can be difference makers for us, and we’ll make a good pitch for those guys. And if that doesn’t work out, we’ll step back and let the market develop.”
Historically, the Nuggets have had a difficult time convincing big names to sign on to play in the Mile High City. But Connelly suggested it’s possible that could change with the emergence of Nikola Jokic.
“Sometimes an agent will reach out to us,” Connelly said. “This offseason, it’s been encouraging. We’ve had a handful of agents reach out to us and say, ‘My player would really like to play with Nikola Jokic.’ I think that speaks well for our future. When a guy wants to play with someone, it’s encouraging.”
Jokic became Denver’s starting center on Dec. 15. From that point on, the Nuggets went 31-26 and were the best offensive team in basketball.
The Nuggets, who narrowly missed out on the Western Conference’s final playoff spot, will likely be looking to add at least one forward to pair alongside Jokic in the front court. Danilo Gallinari opted out of his one-year player option at the end of May. It’s possible Denver tries to re-sign the versatile Italian on a long-term deal. Or Denver could go in a different direction and pursue other high-profile options.
Power forward Paul Millsap, a solid two-way player, will be an unrestricted free agent. The Clippers’ Blake Griffin will be too if he chooses to opt out of the remaining year on his contract.
“What we can’t do is feel like we’re a piece away from the two teams we saw last night,” Connelly said, referring to the NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. “That can be problematic to try to rush the process and you overpay certain guys, who are good players but guys who don’t allow you to play at that level. That can get you in trouble.”
Listen to Lombardi’s entire interview with Connelly here.
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