NUGGETS GET MILLSAP IN THREE-YEAR, $90M DEAL
Free-agent forward agrees to $90M deal over 3 years.
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.
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.