According to Shams Charania of Yahoo’s The Vertical, the Denver Nuggets and Paul Millsap have agreed to terms on a three-year, $90 million deal with a team option on the 3rd year. After a whirlwind first day of free agency and more than a year of trade attempts, Denver has finally gotten their man. Millsap is going to be a Nugget.
Free agent Paul Millsap has agreed to a three-year, $90M with the Denver Nuggets, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 3, 2017
The immediate reaction should be relief, followed by amazement. With everyone in the Western Conference loading up, and the Nuggets with ample cap space that was in danger of once again going unused, getting Millsap helps on both fronts. While certainly signing him should in no way be construed as putting Denver in the conversation of title contender, it does possibly give them the piece they need to get over the top and make a return to the playoffs next season after missing them the four seasons prior. Millsap will offer the Nuggets a veteran presence with plenty of experience while also being a stalwart on the defensive end of the court where the Nuggets struggled mightily last season. For a breakdown of his skills, click right here.
While not a shot-blocker, his effort and mechanics on defense are top notch. Players struggle to get by Millsap, whether in the post or at the perimeter and their shots rarely go uncontested. His outstanding positioning and instincts put him in the position to create turnovers and collect blocks when they are available. Additionally, Millsap is a strong rebounder, especially on the defensive glass.
Paul also will add to an already potent offense as well. He is a versatile weapon on the offensive end and will complement Nikola Jokic perfectly with his shooting ability. He has a solid post game and range out to the three point line to give coach Michael Malone a number of options as to how to use him the most effectively. If the Nuggets can also retain Danilo Gallinari, as Woj has reported they are interested in doing, then Denver’s starting lineup featuring Jokic-Millsap-Gallo and Gary Harris is incredibly potent regardless of who ends up manning the point guard position.
The knocks on Millsap are that he is past his prime at 32 years old and perhaps ready for a decline. For those who believe he is too old, remember that Chauncey Billups was traded to the Nuggets at 32 and put together a few more-than-decent years here. He was 14th in RPM, 16th in wins, and third in both categories for a power forward. Millsap’s game also isn’t predicated on athleticism, its more about solid shooting and craftiness in the post. That style of playing style tends to age well. While its reasonable to assume his defensive capabilities may start to slip as he gets closer to 35, Millsap is still likely to be a very good offensive player and at minimum an average defender for a long time.
It should also be noted that the Nuggets may not be done. While getting Millsap is a huge addition, Denver is still well short of even being considered a contender to host a first round playoff series. They also still have too many forwards on their roster and questions at the point guard position.
$30 Million per year for three years is about as perfect and reasonable a deal as Denver could’ve hoped for. The Nuggets will have to find extensions for guys like Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in the next two and three years respectively so they have to keep their long term cap space open. If things are going really well then Murray might be looking at a max contract of his own so getting Millsap and any other signing’s number off the books by 2020 is key.
While at this moment Denver is still a long way from hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, the signing of Millsap does signal that the Nuggets are still adamant about competing for the playoffs. Granted it’s hard right now to see a way where Denver ends up one of the top seeds in the Western Conference, the Nuggets are right to have playoff aspirations with this roster. Millsap might just be the veteran to help push this club into the postseason for the first time in four years and with a properly structured contract, that playoff experience can be the start of something much bigger just a few years down the road. One thing you can say without a doubt, the Nuggets roster is better today than it was yesterday. Welcome to Denver Paul!