The Denver Nuggets had little choice but to throw $92 million at Aaron Gordon, the fourth-year forward who was set to become a restricted free agent. Gordon has been one of the most productive players in basketball this season and is an elite defender, which makes him worth the investment.
The nuggets nba is the Denver Nuggets, who had little choice but to throw $92 million at Aaron Gordon.
The first response to Aaron Gordon’s four-year, $92 million contract deal with the Denver Nuggets was that the Nuggets had overvalued him. Gordon isn’t the best player on the team. He isn’t even their second or third-best player. When one takes a step back and considers the contract in its whole, it becomes clear that it was a good fit for Denver.
Gordon was acquired by the Nuggets from the Orlando Magic at the March 2021 trade deadline, along with Gary Clark, for defensive guard Gary Harris, 2020 first-round pick R.J. Hampton, and a top-five protected first-round pick in 2025. Gordon did a good job with the part he was given. Despite Jamal Murray’s season-ending ACL injury, the Nuggets had a strong finish.
The Denver Nuggets have a shaky past with free agents.
The Denver Nuggets haven’t been a top destination for great players since unrestricted free agency was introduced to the NBA in 1988. To be completely honest, they haven’t been a top destination for many people.
When Denver acquired one-time All-Star Kenyon Martin from the New Jersey Nets in 2004, it was perhaps the most high-profile free agency acquisition in club history. Andre Miller in 2003, Paul Millsap in 2017, and Antonio McDyess in 1998 were all noteworthy signings. Oh, and the Nuggets were able to persuade Marcus Camby to re-sign with them in 2004.
To bring that group to Springfield, the Hall of Fame selection committee won’t be smashing many doors.
Instead, Denver will have to operate on the periphery. Getting Nikola Joki in the second round of the 2014 draft was a combination of chance and scouting. The Nuggets must draft Murray and convince him to sign a long-term contract deal. The big stars have remained away even when the club is a distant contender.
That’s where Aaron Gordon enters the picture.
Aaron Gordon was an instant hit with the Nuggets.
Aaron Gordon’s four-year, $92 million contract deal may have looked excessive, but the Denver Nuggets had no choice. | Getty Images/Steph Chambers
Last season, the Denver Nuggets were in need of a fourth-line improvement. At the age of 35, Millsap wasn’t getting it done. Despite starting half of the team’s 72 games, he only averaged 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Michael Porter Jr. is more successful as an enormous wing than a power forward. JaMychal Green is a superior second-unit option.
Aaron Gordon averaged 10.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists on 50 percent shooting in 25 games after the trade. On defense, he offered movement that Millsap could no longer give.
Denver went on an eight-game winning streak after the deal and finished the season with a record of 21–7. They were 19–6 when Gordon entered the game. He sat out the first game after the trade while waiting for NBA approval to join his new club. He missed a number of late-season games due to a calf injury.
Joki went on and on about how fast Gordon and him established chemistry. While he struggled in the Western Conference playoffs as the Phoenix Suns swept the Denver Nuggets in four games, he was impressive in the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The bottom line for the Denver Nuggets was that Aaron Gordon had to be kept.
Aaron Gordon isn’t a household name. Let’s not kid ourselves about this. As a role player alongside Joki and Murray (when he returns), he became a key component in the Denver Nuggets’ championship jigsaw.
Given the difficulties Denver had in recruiting free agents in the past, this was an example of a player who already fit the culture. So what’s the point of jeopardizing that?
Gordon’s extension sends a strong statement to the organization as well as the Western Conference leadership. It indicates the Nuggets are in it to win right now, and if that means paying a luxury tax later, so be it.
Porter is also extension-eligible this season, with a maximum deal of five years and $168 million based on his rookie contract. Denver is on the verge of hitting the tax line ($136 million) next season, and when new agreements for Gordon and Porter (probably) kick in, they’ll be far beyond it.
Stan and Josh Kroenke, the owners of the Denver Nuggets, have a reputation for squeezing pennies. However, with the reigning MVP in place, they seem to be ready to put their money where their mouth is in order to win the franchise’s first NBA title. Keeping Aaron Gordon in Colorado is a step in the right direction.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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