It’s on to the off-season duties for front offices across the NBA, and that includes the newly crowned champion Denver Nuggets, who are still on a high since it’s the city’s first title after being in the league for 47 years.
Nevertheless, scouting draftees for the June 23rd draft and evaluating free agents will be the upcoming tasks, and included in that are question marks on the secondary guys.
While the team is blessed with a good deal of talent, led by two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray each going on a scorching playoff run, many also recognize the contributions of the supporting cast. The crew made their presence felt, from veterans like Aaron Gordon and now two-time champion Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, down to rookie Christian Braun.
In between all that, but not forgotten, is five-year pro Bruce Brown, an upcoming free agent that’s sure to get plenty of offers from other teams. He has always been an interesting rotational player, both as a youngster for the downtrodden Detroit Pistons (2018-2020) and a role player for the Durant-Irving-Harden era of the Brooklyn Nets (2020-2022). If you watched the Nuggets this season, though, especially in the playoffs, you’d know how interesting his play really is.
Take it from Denver head coach Mike Malone, who made a clairvoyant statement about Brown last October 2022, back when the swingman was a freshly minted Nugget.
“He knows exactly who he is as a player … He doesn’t work on things that are not in his wheelhouse. I have a feeling that Bruce Brown will close a lot of big games for us.”
Brown didn’t exactly “close” games, but what he did was in that ballpark. He started it by posting a career-high 11.5 points per game in the regular season, all while being a role player, sharing minutes, and playing behind a deep roster.
Then, he had good stretches in the postseason off-the-bench, like scoring 25 points in the all-important Game 5 of the West semis vs. the Phoenix Suns when it was tied at 2-2, and scoring 14.3 PPG on 51.5% shooting in the first three games of the West finals vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, which helped them jump into a 3-0 lead.
Topping those off nicely are his performance in the last two games of the finals. In Game 4, he got hot and racked up 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including timely scoring when Nikola Jokic was in foul trouble. In Game 5, though mostly quiet, he had a key offensive rebound and go-ahead follow up with 1:31 left.
With all those things considered, it’s pretty much expected that Brown will be a commodity in free agency. Everyone knows that, and all he has to do now to officially position himself for a nice raise is decline his $6.8 million player option and wait for the offers to come in.
Brown told media that he wants to stay in Colorado, but as we’ve seen from such players time and again, it can change.
While it’s easy to assume that the Nuggets would want him back as well, we’ll have to wait and see how much it can withstand. The negotiation may change drastically once he sees his value in the market and how many contenders also want him on their side.