Free-agent for­ward agrees to $90M deal over 3 years.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Nick Kos­mider

The Nuggets landed one of the most sig­nif­i­cant free agents in fran­chise his­tory Sun­day night, agree­ing to a three-year, $90 million deal with power for­ward Paul Mill­sap, a league source con­firmed.

Mill­sap was an all-star with the At­lanta Hawks each of the last four seasons and gives the Nuggets an im­pact front­court pres­ence along­side cen­ter Nikola Jo­kic. The pres­ence of the 11-year vet­eran should present an im­me­di­ate im­prove­ment for a young ros­ter that fin­ished one game out of the Western Con­fer­ence play­off pic­ture last sea­son.

The third year on Mill­sap’s con­tract is a team op­tion.

Mill­sap av­er­aged 18.1 points, 7.7 re­bounds and 3.7 as­sists per game last sea­son. The 6-foot-8 power for­ward also has been con­sid­ered a strong in­te­rior de­fender through­out his ca­reer, which is im­por­tant for a Nuggets team that ranked 29th in the 30-team league in de­fen­sive ef­fi­ciency last sea­son. The 32-year-old spent the first seven seasons of his ca­reer with Utah, which se­lected him in the sec­ond round of the 2006 draft.

The ad­di­tion of Mill­sap was a ma­jor coup for the Nuggets in their at­tempt to keep pace with their ri­vals in the North­west Divi­sion and other teams in the Western Con­fer­ence. Min­nesota swung a deal for Chicago star Jimmy But­ler on draft night last month. Shortly be­fore free agency be­gan Fri­day night, Oklahoma City stunned the NBA by ac­quir­ing Paul Ge­orge in a trade with In­di­ana, pair­ing a player of all-league cal­iber next to MVP Rus­sell West­brook.

The Nuggets had to make a move to keep pace and take an­other step as they aim to re­turn to the post­sea­son for the first time since 2013. Den­ver at­tempted to make mul­ti­ple trades, both be­fore and af­ter the draft, in an at­tempt to land a mar­quee player. The Nuggets weren’t able to ac­quire a star through those means, but they put on a full-court press in an at­tempt to land Mill­sap, a player about whom the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been in­trigued for some time.

Pres­i­dent Josh Kroenke, pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions Tim Con­nelly, gen­eral man­ager Ar­turas Kar­niso­vas, coach Michael Malone and guard Gary Har­ris made the trip to At­lanta on Satur­day to meet with Mill­sap. They were joined by Bron­cos line­backer Bran­don Mar­shall, who im­pressed the Nuggets brass with his pitch to Mill­sap about the rise of Den­ver as a city and what it meant to win there, ex­pe­ri­ence he gained by help­ing the Bron­cos win Su­per Bowl 50.

Power for­ward was iden­ti­fied as an area of need early in the off­sea­son. Den­ver strug­gled to find con­sis­tent of­fense from the po­si­tion. Though Mill­sap saw his field-goal per­cent­age dip to 44.2 per­cent, but his scor­ing av­er­age was a ca­reer high, and he should cer­tainly ben­e­fit from the in­te­rior pass­ing from Jo­kic, who was fourth in the NBA last sea­son with six triple­dou­bles.

Mill­sap, who will be­come Den­ver’s high­est-paid player, is also con­sid­ered one of the league’s top lead­ers, a qual­ity the Nuggets wanted to add to a locker room of young play­ers. What this means for the fu­ture of the Nuggets’ own free agent, for­ward Danilo Gal­li­nari, is un­clear. The Nuggets will likely have to con­sol­i­date a log­jam at the power-for­ward spot.

Mill­sap’s sign­ing was first re­ported by Ya­hoo Sports.

John Baze­more, As­so­ci­ated Press file

Paul Mill­sap, driv­ing against Nuggets for­ward Wil­son Chan­dler last sea­son while a mem­ber of the At­lanta Hawks, av­er­aged 18.1 points per game in 2016-17.

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