June 13, 2024

Five Denver Nuggets Who Probably Won’t Return Next Season

After failing to defend their title, the Denver Nuggets face some tough decisions this offseason. Their season ended painfully with a Game 7 loss at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite overcoming an 0-2 start to take a 3-2 lead, they were crushed in Game 6 and then blew a record halftime lead in Game 7, losing by 15 after leading by 20 in the third quarter. The Timberwolves, who look like potential champions themselves, capitalized on the Nuggets’ exhausted stars and lack of depth.

Nikola Jokic, arguably the best player in the world and under contract for four more years, will turn 30 next season. With three MVP awards in four years, the Nuggets can’t afford to waste any of his prime years. The team remains strong but has serious depth issues and limited assets, while the Western Conference continues to strengthen. Consequently, significant changes are likely this offseason, and some familiar faces may be leaving.

5 Denver Nuggets who definitely won't be back next season

  1. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Retaining KCP will be difficult. He’s proven to be an excellent defender, capable shooter, and a stabilizing veteran presence. However, with a player option for $15.4 million, he’s likely to decline it and seek a lucrative long-term deal elsewhere. The Nuggets, already financially committed to Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., and with extensions for Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon looming, may not afford to keep him.
  2. DeAndre Jordan: It’s time for the Nuggets to find a more viable backup center. Jordan, a free agent, is no longer effective in this role. Jokic playing 47 minutes in Game 7 underscored the need for a better backup. The team might look to draft a center or find a more reliable option through free agency or trade. Jordan’s veteran leadership is valued, but his on-court contributions are insufficient.
  3. Justin Holiday: Holiday has likely played himself out of Denver’s budget. Despite being one of the Nuggets’ few reliable bench players in the playoffs, his solid defense and shooting will attract offers from other teams. At 35 and an unrestricted free agent, he’ll probably seek a more substantial contract than the Nuggets can afford, especially as they need to focus on getting younger and more versatile players.
  4. Reggie Jackson: Jackson had a rejuvenated season at 34 and became a key playoff contributor. With a $5.2 million player option, he’s expected to decline it in search of a longer, more lucrative deal. While his ball-handling and shooting are valuable, the Nuggets likely can’t justify paying up for another aging backup when they need to invest in younger talent and improve overall team depth.
  5. Michael Porter Jr.: Despite a solid season and strong playoff performances, Porter Jr. is likely to be traded. At nearly $36 million next season, his one-dimensional play is too costly, especially with big extensions due for Murray and Gordon. Trading Porter could bring in multiple role players or another star, addressing the team’s depth issues. The Nuggets can’t afford to gamble on unproven young players or draft picks when they need to maximize Jokic’s remaining prime years.

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