The Nuggets Traded Reggie Jackson, Agreed To A Max Deal With Jamal Murray, And Saw KCP Decline His Player Option

The Denver Nuggets had quite the Thursday, as an awful lot of news came out of Denver with regards to roster moves for the 2023 champs — with a mixed bag in terms of what it means for their quest to get back to the Finals.

The first part of the equation was agreeing to a new 4-year, $209 million max extension with Jamal Murray that should get signed soon after the league year begins in July.

Keeping Murray around long-term with Nikola Jokic is obviously important to the Nuggets, as those two have developed one of the best two-man games in the league. However, shortly after that news broke, word arrived that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was (as expected) declining his player option and hitting free agency.

While it was the anticipated move by Caldwell-Pope, it does put the Nuggets in a bit of a bind. KCP is incredibly important to what they do and is a part of their starting lineup that has been arguably the best 5-man group in the NBA for the last two years. Teams around the league know how valuable he is in Denver and what he’s done to help them become a perennial contender, and he’s expected to get big offers in free agency in the range of $25 million per year.

The Nuggets would have a hard time meeting that demand as is, and seem to be trying to shed some salary in an effort to create a bit more financial flexibility. That led them to a trade during Wednesday’s second round of the Draft that sent Reggie Jackson to the Hornets along with three future second round picks to offload his $5.25 million salary (after Jackson picked up his player option earlier this summer).

That deal gets Denver down to the tax line, which opens up the mid-level and gives them a few more options to add talent beyond veteran minimums this summer. Whether they can (or are willing) to meet what KCP is able to find on the market is an entirely different question, and if not they’re going to be faced with a very difficult task of replacing what he brings on both ends of the floor.