Denver Nuggets looking to bolster backcourt in free agency

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

With one full day of rumors behind us, one thing has become clear about what the Nuggets are targeting.

It really shouldn't be a surprise that the Nuggets are looking at wings thus far in free agency. When Masai Ujiri was still running things for the Nuggets, it was rumored that the team would go after sharpshooter Kyle Korver in the off-season. There has yet to be a rumor of the Nuggets and Korver, but Tim Connelly's team has been linked to other guys that could play in Denver's backcourt.

Connelly and Brian Shaw met with Andre Iguodala in Los Angeles for a formal pitch to the free agent wing and they also had time to see him in Denver when he was working out at the Pepsi Center before the NBA draft on June 27th. In addition to Iguodala, the Nuggets might be interested in bringing back Corey Brewer. If one or the other is not back with the team - and Julyan Stone is an unrestricted free agent too - the Nuggets could have up to three roster spots open. And we have yet to hear any rumors attached to Timofey Mozgov - other than Connelly wanting to bring him back long-term.

The Nuggets current roster situation:

Salary_medium

(Info from Storytellers Contracts)

The Nuggets have 11 players under contract - add in two more possibilities with rookie Erick Green and Joffrey Lauvergne. Connelly expects Joffrey to stay in France for a season or two and we'll find out what the 21 year-old will do soon. Realistically the Nuggets have 12 guys under contract, including Green. That leaves three roster spots for the Nuggets to get to 15, which is the maximum.

If the Nuggets re-sign Iguodala, Brewer, and Mozgov - that's your team. With the addition of Darrell Arthur and a likely return of Mozgov, don't expect the Nuggets to add a frontcourt player to their team. Three power forwards in Faried, Randolph, and Arthur and two centers in McGee and Mozgov. Plus, Gallinari and Chandler can play some minutes of small ball as frontcourt players.

And that brings us to the backcourt. The Nuggets drafted one point guard and have three more for their Summer League roster (Ramon Galloway, Travis Releford, and CJ Harris). Rumors of Denver's interest in Tony Allen, Monta Ellis, Chris Copeland, and Jarrett Jack also show where the team may be looking if roster spots open up. Let's keep track of the players on the list below:

Old team New team New deal
Mike Dunleavy Bucks Bulls 2 yr, $6M
J.J. Redick Bucks
Monta Ellis Bucks
Nick Young 76ers
Kyle Korver Hawks
Gary Neal Spurs
Manu Ginobili Spurs
Marco Belinelli Bulls
Mo Williams Jazz
Kevin Martin Thunder
Wayne Ellington Cavaliers
J.R. Smith Knicks
Chris Copeland Knicks
Martell Webster Wizards
Jarrett Jack Warriors
Tony Allen Grizzlies
Dorell Wright 76ers
O.J. Mayo Mavericks
Carlos Delfino Rockets
Matt Barnes Clippers
Corey Brewer Nuggets
Andre Iguodala Nuggets

Notes on a few players from above:

Monta Ellis - the former 40th overall pick in the 2005 draft opted out of the final year of his six-year, $66 million deal he signed with the Warriors back in 2008. Ellis knows how to get to the free throw line (consider his 289-374 performance to Lawson's 235-311 last season), can dish the ball (496 assists to Lawson's 501), and is a steals machine (169 to Lawson's 107). Where Ellis struggles is three-point shooting (94-328 aka 28%) as a career 31% long ball shooter and defensively. Ellis could be a phenomenal scoring threat off the bench if he tweaked his shot selection a bit, but at just 27 years-old he may not be ready to reevaluate his career.

Jarrett Jack - the 29 year-old Jack will be joining his sixth franchise if he leaves the Warriors. Sometimes players get a raw deal in being traded, but this much jumping around is a bit of a red flag. His shot attempts went up from 10.8 during the season to 12.8 in the playoffs - which mirrored his minutes going from 29 to 35 per game. Jack is best with the ball in his hands and was in a backup role with the Warriors. The Nuggets would likely need to move Andre Miller if Jack was brought aboard as having the two backup Lawson would make little sense. Jack would also be a high-priced backup who could command a deal starting in the $7 million per season territory.

Tony Allen - he'll be 32 years-old in January and is basically a similar version to Andre Iguodala defensively. On the offensive side of the ball, Allen is best moving without the ball and in getting into the paint. He can't stretch the floor for a wing as he was just 3-24 on the season from beyond the arc. It would be interesting if the Nuggets were trying to bring Allen in with Iguodala, but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Chris Copeland - he was a 29 year-old rookie who went to Colorado University and spent time playing overseas before sticking with the Knicks with impressive showings in Las Vegas at Summer League and in training camp with New York. He appeared in 56 games for the Knicks, played 15.4 minutes per game, and scored 8.7 points per game with 42% shooting from three-point land. If you use his per-36 minutes numbers he rates out to 20.3 ppg and 5.0 rebounds. He's a 6'9" and 235 pound stretch-four. He struggles to rebound and defend and with Randolph, Faried, Arthur, Gallo, and Chandler on the roster - this move would make little sense.

Nick Young - Swagy-P was brought into the NBA during Connelly's time with the Wizards. It'd be interesting to see if the Nuggets are connected with him because of the Connelly connection. He's a career 37% shooter from three-point land and shot 35% from deep for the Sixers last season en route to scoring 10.6 points per game in 23.9 minutes a night. Another guy who has questions defensively and questions surrounding his professionalism.


Nate's pick:

Marco Belinelli - the Brooklyn Nets have shown interest in the 27 year-old Italian. He's a career 38% three-point shooter and an underrated all-around player. He plays with toughness and moves very well without the ball, but can also handle the rock a little bit. He shot 83% from the foul line last season and scored 9.6 points per game in 25 minutes a night for the Bulls. I think Belinelli would be an excellent pickup for the Nuggets to replace Brewer - we'll see if the Nuggets reach out to him.

Belinelli saw his role increase during the post-season as the Bulls were decimated by injury. He responded by putting up 11.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 27 minutes a night (12 games). I could see his style being a perfect fit for a half-court team that Brian Shaw will try to build in Denver. Yet, Belinelli can also get out and run for when Lawson and his teammates play fast.

The Nuggets could bring him in as a replacement for Brewer and his salary might even be a little cheaper than what CBrew made last season. His cap hold with the Bulls is for $2.3 million and if Denver can get him in that area - it'd be a great value.

The Nuggets should get a hold of Gallo's fellow countryman.

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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