The Denver Nuggets have re-signed unrestricted free agent point guard Jameer Nelson to a three-year, $13.5 million contract, while Nikola Jokic's deal is being reported as a four-year, $5.5 million pact, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. And Zach Lowe added that Nelson's deal might have a partial guarantee for the third season of that deal.
ESPN sources say Jameer Nelson has landed three-year, $13.5M from Denver, while Jokic (2014 second-rounder) gets four-year deal worth $5.5M— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 13, 2015
For Nelson, that's an average of $4.5 million per season for the 33 year-old guard - who turns 34 years-old in February. Nelson was productive for the Nuggets last season in 34 games, of which he started five. He averaged 9.6 points on 45% shooting, to go along with 35.4% shooting from downtown on 3.8 attempts per game.
Nelson's contract is a very interesting one. When he came to the team in a mid-season deal from the Boston Celtics (in exchange for Nate Robinson), he needed a little assurance that he'd be seeing minutes from the Nuggets. Nelson also indicated after the season that he, again, wanted assurances of playing time no matter the team he chose.
After playing 10 seasons for the Orlando Magic, Nelson chose to sign with the Dallas Mavericks where he could start for a playoff caliber team. The Magic decided to turn their starting job over to 10th overall pick, rookie Elfrid Payton, and it appeared Nelson wasn't interested in being a backup or playing for a rebuilding team.
With Denver, the Nuggets still have Ty Lawson, and drafted Emmanuel Mudiay with the seventh overall selection. The team also has second year man Erick Green on a non-guaranteed contract at the point guard spot, and Ian Clark is playing on Denver's Summer League team, here in Las Vegas. So, for those counting, Nelson is the fourth point guard on the roster, but the depth chart probably looks like this:
This signing indicates that a Lawson trade is coming, but who knows when. It's also likely that Nelson, as we've outlined since the end of the 2014-15 season, will be the starting point guard, until Michael Malone feels comfortable enough to hand the keys over to Mudiay.
While I had talked myself into the team just handing the keys to Mudiay now, this is an alright re-signing by the Nuggets. This deal with Nelson indicates that he's fine being a teacher and eventual backup to Mudiay. Nelson runs the pick-and-roll incredibly well, and will be able to impart much knowledge to Emmanuel. It's a good pairing, but the team has to get something done with Lawson, so that doesn't hang over the team for much longer. It already has the makings of an awkward situation with reporters asking Mudiay in Vegas if he's spoken to Lawson, and him having to tell folks the truth, that he has not.
Reasons not to like this signing: it puts a guy ahead of Mudiay to start the season. With Randy Foye's contract becoming guaranteed, and J.J. Hickson still on the roster, the Nuggets don't much look like they're ready to give major minutes to the young guys on the team. But that can all change with a couple moves, or at least one trade.
With the Jokic contract, that's a great deal for the former 41st overall pick. The four-year deal at $5.5 million breaks down to $1.37 million per season, and allows Jokic time to develop. Nikola has been playing well in Vegas, just recorded his first double-double on July 12th against the Kings, and has some nice NBA tools - to go along with his size.
While the Nuggets roster is taking shape, we are still left with a few questions.
The moves this summer break down as follows:
1.) Will Barton re-signing for 3-years and $11 million or $3.6 million per season.
2.) Wilson Chandler re-structures contract for this season and gets extension for an additional three-seasons. This deal will look close to the following:
2015-16: Salary increase from $7.1 million to $10.76 million.
2016-17: $12 million
2017-18: $12 million
2018-19: $12 million
3.) Randy Foye's contract is now fully guaranteed at $3.1 million.
4.) Jameer Nelson re-signed to 3-year, $13.5 million deal or $4.5 million per.
5.) Nikola Jokic signed to a 4-year, $5.5 million deal or $1.37 million per.
The Nuggets still have decisions to make on Erick Green and Jamaal Franklin. Both have non-guaranteed deals heading into the season.
ESPN's Kevin Pelton also had this tweet, indicating Franklin could be waived (he didn't dress out for the Nuggets second game against the Kings.):
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/BobbyMarks42">@BobbyMarks42</a> I have them OK with Franklin waiver. Chandler to $10.76M this year, then 3/36ish on the back end.</p>— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) <a href="https://twitter.com/kpelton/status/620631652666966016">July 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
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The roster is taking shape, with moves still needing to be made.