Let me show you, baby, make the best
Of what you have in hand, oh yeah
Just remember when you follow through
Then the over isn't planned, ah yeah
Van Halen - The Full Bug
The Denver Nuggets, with the signing of Mike Miller yesterday and rookie Jamal Murray today have reached nearly maximum roster capacity with 14 players (including the non-guaranteed salary of Joffrey Lauvergne). It's pretty interesting that, with all the exorbitant salaries signed this offseason that the Nuggets highest paid player, Danilo Gallinari, will "only" make $15 million next season.
However, this leaves tough decisions on Jakarr Sampson, Axel Toupane and rookie Juancho Hernangomez. Who will make the roster and who SHOULD make the roster will be a question that will be addressed by Nuggets GM Tim Connelly in the coming months before the NBA Machine groans and sputters to a start in September. How Connelly walks this particular mine-field will be delicate. Not only because of the roster implications, but for the future of their first round draft pick Hernangomez.
There are many things to consider before "stashing" Hernangomez. First and foremost Juancho showed out in Summer League in a way the was impressive and consistent. Multiple people around the NBA I spoke to after Summer League were very impressed with many aspects of Juancho's performance, in particular his tenacity and willingness to go inside and fight for the offensive rebound. What I heard was surprise. In particular after Juancho's drive to the hoop for the slam in the final game against Phoenix. In particular the Spanish forward's quickness to the hoop. Adam Mares broke down Hernangomez Summer League performance right here.
If you choose to stash Juancho because of roster minutes then you must consider several things. What will happen if the NBA players or Owners opt out of the CBA in the offseason of 2017? What adjustments will be made? The looming uncertainty about what will happen when the opt out options come should be a bigger consideration than people are giving credence to . In all the analysis of stashing Juancho, everyone seems to forget that the NBA may fundamentally change, or not, in the offseason in 2017. It is that uncertainty that affects everything going forward in the NBA. Would you take the "cost certainty" of Juancho now over what could be on the horizon next offseason?
Additionally, assuming that the Nuggets intend to make Lauvergne's non guaranteed contract for 2016-17 fully guaranteed, then that also leaves Jakarr Sampson and Axel Toupane and their non-guaranteed contracts at a loose end. If the Nuggets choose to stash Juancho, then why should they bring back Sampson or Toupane? Would it be better to have the open roster slot available for flexibility heading into the season (Nuggets don't have to cut down their roster until just before the season starts in October). The Nuggets should definitely make Jakarr and Toupane invitees to Training Camp and let them compete and maybe show something. The best you can do at this point
Right now the Nuggets are close to $10 million below the cap floor, and are eyeing 15 full roster spots. Short of a 2 for 1 trade deal the Nuggets are chocked full. The full bug baby. How they proceed from here will be interesting indeed.