• Jeremy Freed

Paul Millsap Stays in Denver

USA Today

What’s the deal?

1 Year, $30 million team option picked up

What does Millsap bring to the Nuggets?

Millsap is not the player he used to be, and doesn’t blow up a box score with his stats, but he’s a great fit in Denver. He’s a strong defender next to Nikola Jokic, and stretches the floor enough to give Jamal Murray and Gary Harris room to operate. Advanced stats still love him: in the real plus-minus rankings, the top three power forwards were Giannis Antetenkounmpo, Anthony Davis, and Paul Millsap.

What does this move mean for the Nuggets?

I thought his best course of action was to come back to Denver in our Free Agency Preview, but figured it would be on a longer, lesser deal. Instead Denver decided to sit out the silly-season, make sure they brought back the core of a team that was the 2nd-seed in the Western Conference, and see if they could improve with the top-seeded Warriors in obvious decline. It’s a good bet. The core of the team is young and improving, and the Nuggets have as good a chance as anyone of representing the West in the 2020 Finals.

Deal grade

That’s still a LOT of money. Whether Millsap was worth it at the beginning of his deal is one thing: he can’t possibly be worth it at the end. But the Nuggets do keep their full $9.2 million mid-level exception -- which will ultimately net them a solid contributor -- and lets them survey the situation once the season starts. In a worst-case scenario, Millsap becomes a $30 million expiring contract, and there are good players who might become available that he can be a key piece for. He’s not worth $30M in a vacuum, but he was clearly worth it to the Nuggets. B.

Final thoughts

Many forget that Denver’s great season included a quarter of a season missed by Gary Harris, a full half by Will Barton, and featured their primary starting lineup barely two dozen times. The Nuggets are an ascendant team, and given the opportunity to run back a roster that led to their fifth-best record in franchise history, they ponied up. Can’t argue with that.

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