According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, the Denver Nuggets have locked up point guard Monte Morris on a new three-year contract.
Sources: Nuggets guard Monte Morris has agreed to a three-year, $4.8M deal with the team. First two seasons guaranteed. Denver converts Morris, the No. 51 pick in 2017, from a two-way contract to a standard deal.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 19, 2018
As Shams states, the third year is non-guaranteed, meaning the structure of the contract is likely to be a flat $1.6 million in 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21. The Nuggets had a potion of their taxpayer midlevel exception left to use, and it looks like the majority of that remaining money will go to Morris this year.
As Shams also states, Morris goes from a two-way contract to a standard deal, meaning that Denver, with 15 standard contracts, looks to be set with their full-time roster. This does open up a two-way roster spot however. The other two-way contract is currently being filled by Thomas Welsh.
For Morris and the Nuggets, this is a show of good faith in what Morris has proven in his limited opportunities so far. He performed well in the G-League, performed well in Summer League, and generally accomplished everything the coaching staff asked him to do, including working on his three-point shot. Here’s a tidbit Chris Dempsey of Altitude shared yesterday from a Michael Malone interview on Morris:
Monte Morris played solid basketball in summer league, solidifying himself on the #Nuggets roster. This, part of a bigger N360 interview which airs next week, is what coach Michael Malone said about Morris' improvement & what he told him prior to the team signing Isaiah Thomas. pic.twitter.com/Dy4q3ecClL— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) July 18, 2018
Morris will serve (in all likelihood) as the third point guard in the rotation this year behind Jamal Murray and Isaiah Thomas, who was signed last week in a surprising move. Both players are proven, and Morris isn’t, which led to some concerns for a team in dire need of a playoff push next season. There will be games in which Morris likely never sees the floor.
However, that doesn’t mean he will go unused. There are opportunities, especially given possible injuries, for Morris to play every single game for specific stretches. If he can play smart team defense, shoot from the perimeter, and make the right decision, he will find his way into the rotation, likely at the expense of Malik Beasley or Juancho Hernangomez if neither of those guys perform up to standard. Given Denver’s need for a third point guard on the roster, it never made sense to keep Morris on the two-way deal. Signing Thomas was a gamble, Beasley remains unproven, and one can never have enough competent ball handlers on the roster.
This is a good day for Nuggets nation. The team is clearly committed to Morris as a potential piece, and while he may not reap the benefits of that with minutes this year, he will in seasons beyond if he continues to work for it. Malone clearly has his back, and now, so do Tim Connelly and Josh Kroenke.