Denver Nuggets 2013 off-season free agent guide

Ezra Shaw

The Nuggets will have up to five decisions to make on their own free agents this off-season.

The Denver Nuggets will have to make decisions on Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer, Timofey Mozgov, Julyan Stone, and Quincy Miller in the coming months. What are these decisions and when do they have to be made?

Important dates:

July 1, 2013 Salary cap year begins
Free agents become free
Unrenounced free agents, scale amounts for first round picks playing outside the NBA, and roster charges are applied to team salary
Free agents can be renounced

July 8-11 (date varies by year) Salary cap adjusts
Teams can sign free agents and make trades
Contracts can be extended

July 23 Last day to withdraw a qualifying offer to a restricted free agent without the player's consent

October 1 Last day for a restricted free agent to accept a Qualifying Offers
October 31 Last day to exercise option years on rookie scale contracts
Last day rookie scale contracts can be extended

Denver Nuggets *unrestricted free agents:

Corey Brewer: 27 years old, turns 28 on March 5th, 2014.

Brewer's last contract was signed by the Dallas Mavericks back in 2011 using the Mid Level Exception and was a three-year deal for $7.4 million, plus incentives. This past season he had a $3.2 million deal with additional incentives up to $575,000.

Brewer had a very comparable season to his 2009-10 campaign with the Minnesota Timberwolves - that season he started and played in all 82 games and averaged 30 minutes a night. This was only Brewer's second season averaging double-digits in the scoring department with 12.1 points per game. Brewer also played for par on his shooting percentages by practically mirroring his career totals in field goal-percentage (42% on the season, 41% for his career) and three-point-percentage (29%). Brewer took a career-high 3.7 threes per game, but didn't improve on his shooting percentages.

At this point in his career, Brewer is who he is and that's a high-risk, high-reward player who will give maximum energy and effort whenever he is on the floor. It's hard to compare Brewer to anyone in the league and that makes it difficult to determine what his value will be on the open market.

Brewer is a good match for George Karl's chaotic coaching style, but it may be in the team's best interest to go a different direction and add a sharp-shooter instead of bringing Brewer back. With limited money this off-season, it could spell the end of Brewer in Denver. He could be an option to come back if the Nuggets strike out with some other options in free agency.

*Unrestricted free agent means that the player is free to sign with any team and his previous team (the Nuggets) will not have the ability to match a contract once it is signed.

Nuggets restricted free agents:

In order to be a restricted free agent, teams must tender qualifying offers between the day following the last game of the NBA Finals and June 30, 2013. Once an offer is tendered, the player is then a restricted free agent (after meeting certain criteria after rookie scale contracts) and that player is free to sign an offer sheet with any team, but the previous team is given three days to match the deal or they lose the player for nothing.

Restricted free agents are also given the option to sign the qualifying offer with their current team and play out a one-year deal. After that single season, the player is then an unrestricted free agent in the off-season.

Timofey Mozgov: Will be 27 years old on July 16th.

Qualifying Offer: $3.92 million.

Mozgov's season was one I'm sure he'd like to forget. He appeared in just 41 games this year, despite starting 35 games for the Nuggets in the lockout shortened 66 game 2011-12 campaign. Moz had a fine Olympics and some thought he might have a breakout season for the Nuggets. Instead, he lost his starting job to Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee ate up all the backup minutes. Even Anthony Randolph saw playing time down the stretch over Moz.

With Koufos again being demoted in the playoffs (he was benched in favor of Mozgov against the Lakers in 2012 and replaced as a starter, but came off the bench in the 2013 playoffs against the Warriors), could the center position be up for grabs? Mozgov would be an older option and more expensive option over Koufos' $3 million salary, so it would surprise me if the Nuggets bring Timofey back.

Masai Ujiri has a track record for not letting assets walk, but it'll be interesting to see what Denver does with Mozgov. Some scenarios that could play out:

1.) Moz signs the qualifying offer and plays for $3.9 million this season and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2014. Players rarely choose this option.

2.) Moz signs an offer sheet with another team and the Nuggets have three-days to match said offer or they lose Timo for nothing.

3.) Moz signs a new deal with the Nuggets to perhaps be the third string center again. This would be an odd situation for Mozgov's playing time when 7-footers are in-demand around the league.

4.) The Nuggets work out a sign-and-trade with Mozgov to a team that meets the new sign-and-trade restrictions - which will limit the amount of teams that can do sign-and-trade deals starting this off-season because of salary cap situations.

If the Nuggets do bring Mozgov back, what does that mean for Koufos and McGee? Will the Nuggets bring in a bonafide big man coach to get more value out of the post? Lots of questions for the Nuggets bigs.

Julyan Stone: 24 years old, turns 25 on Dec. 7th.

Qualifying Offer: $1.084 million.

Stone has had a frustrating start to his NBA career. After showing a little promise as a rookie, Stone suffered a similar hip injury as Wilson Chandler in the off-season, missed Summer League and pre-season, and only appeared in four games for the Nuggets this season because of the hip injury and a knee sprain that he suffered when he was able to return to the floor.

What do the Nuggets have in this 6'6" point guard? Karl talks about Stone's defense like he could be a major shutdown defender, but he lacks, for now, the shooting touch from the outside to be your classic Thabo Sefolosha, Dahntay Jones, or Bruce Bowen type of guard. He does possess nice court vision and can run the point in the most classic sense, but Karl's system requires the point guard to be an offensive threat in the drive and kick offense.

Can the Nuggets afford to take a $1 million gamble on Stone with money being tight heading into next season? If the Nuggets want to add a sharp-shooter they might not be able to afford to bring Stone back, or they at least might have to not tender him an offer and hope they can sign him as an unrestricted free agent.

I would like to see Stone back with the Nuggets, but I'm not confident that he will be able to return.

Nuggets with team and player options:

Player Option: Andre Iguodala and a $16.1 million option for the 2013-14 season

Iguodala is 29 years old and will be 30 on Jan. 28th, 2014.

I expect Iguodala to opt-out of his current deal so that he can lock up some long-term stability on perhaps his last major NBA contract. Iguodala has stated that a contending situation is ideal for him, but he also knows the business side of basketball will play a role in his next contract aka who can offer him a good deal. He has also stated that he doesn't want to be relied upon to handle a major scoring role with whatever team he signs with, so it'll be interesting to see if that really factors in. Iguodala is a diverse player that can fill it up when needed, but has shown he likes to focus on being more of an all-around player.

Looking around the league, last season Nets forward Gerald Wallace opted out of the last season on his deal that was scheduled to play him $9.5 million for the 2012-13 season. Wallace instead got a raise from the Nets (for one season) of $500,000 and signed a four-year deal that paid him $40 million ($10 million per season). Wallace is a year older than Iguodala, but Iguodala was a more productive player than Wallace this past season. So, anyone dreaming of Iguodala inking a deal for about $10 million per season should kiss that pipe-dream goodbye.

What about Nene? He signed a five-year, $65-67 million deal with the Nuggets, plus incentives, at practically the same age Iguodala is now. Nene's deal pays him $13 million per season and could be a lot more along the lines of what Iguodala could easily command.

I don't think people realize the importance of Iguodala on defense. Karl could throw him on just about anybody on any given night and Iguodala had success. He also forces the guys around him to raise the level of their games and paired very nicely with Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari in Denver's backcourt.

Offensively, Iguodala saw a dip over his career numbers in field goal-percentage, three point-percentage, and a big dip in free throw-percentage. With the Nuggets, Iguodala doesn't have to be the No. 1 or the No. 2 scoring option and can often finish No. 4 or No. 5 and still see the Nuggets win because of Lawson, Gallo, Kenneth Faried, and/or a number of other guys.

This is a good situation for Iguodala, but he should want to see the Nuggets be aggressive on the free agent and/or trade market to improve some areas on the team. Will Gallo's recovery play a role in Iguodala's decision? Consider that Gallo might not be 100-percent until the 2014-15 season and that's another year older for Iguodala.

Team Option: Quincy Miller and a $788K option

Miller will be 21 years-old on Nov. 18th.

Miller's rookie season was uneventful, as rookie seasons can be for young players on deep teams. Miller saw some time in the developmental league with the Iowa Energy and saw bit playing time for the Nuggets as he appeared in just seven games for the team.

Leaving Baylor University after his freshman season, Miller has had to quickly adjust to the NBA game of defending multiple looks and figuring out the Nuggets offense. He has stated numerous times during the season how much he had been learning and the coaches also commented on the strides Miller made. But how far away is he from getting into the Nuggets rotation? One step will be to see if Denver chooses to bring Miller back for his second NBA season. He's not slated to make a lot of money, but his roster spot is valuable on a deep team.

Miller also boasted about the weight he was able to add to his frame this season. He came to the team at roughly 208 pounds and has stated that he was up to about 230 pounds during the season. He's such a young kid that he has time to grow into his body, but we should not expect him to turn into a Reggie Evans type bruiser -- he'll likely have a similar body type to Kevin Durant (could get bigger than him, easily) throughout his career. How many drastic body changes have you seen at the NBA level? It's rare, but you can add the right kind of bulk - as Miller has been doing.

It'd be nice to see Miller back with the team to see what Denver has in the former second-round pick. He still must be considered to be a long-shot to get into any rotation, but he has a tremendous work ethic and you never know what you have in a 20 year-old.

2013 Draft picks:

1st Round: 27th overall pick.

2nd Round: The Nuggets traded their 2013 pick to the Lakers (in a previous deal), who in turn traded that pick to the Suns.

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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