ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Denver Nuggets will pick up the team option on the third and final year of Paul Millsap’s contract. Millsap will make $30,000,000 in the 2019-20 season, per Spotrac.
Woj tweeted out the news on Saturday morning:
Denver will bring back Millsap for the final season of his three-year contract at $30.3M, have available their $9.2M mid-level exception AND still stay under the luxury tax. Denver is loaded to compete for the Western Conference title. https://t.co/oCkTvHD41e— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2019
As Wojnarowski indicated in his tweet, the Nuggets still have their mid-level exception at their disposal, and his anecdote about staying under the tax is worth unpacking.
By picking up Millsap’s option, the Nuggets are now operating as an over-the-cap team that sits roughly $11.9 M from the luxury tax line—which draws our attention to three Traded Player Exceptions they created via their salary dumps last summer (Faried, Arthur, Chandler).
Should the Nuggets choose to use these exceptions, they can add talent via a trade or sign-and-trade—despite being over the cap—so long as ownership is willing to pay the tax. Woj’s reporting that Denver will stay under the tax indicates they’re choosing not to use those exceptions, which will expire after this summer.
Those exceptions would have allowed Denver to add players making around 7.5, 12.8, and 13.8 million, per Jeff Siegel of EarlyBirdRights.com. But it appears ownership preferred to avoid starting the clock on the dreaded repeater’s tax, and President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly has already gone on record with his willingness to run this team back.
Millsap averaged 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2 assists per game with the Nuggets last season, helping them make a leap from the bottom-third to the top-third of the league in defensive rating. The 2019-20 campaign will be the 14th season of Millsap’s NBA career.