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The Denver Nuggets Can Simply Run it Back in 2023-24

Last Updated: June 15, 2023
With the NBA title locked up, it’s never too early to look ahead to next season. Boardroom breaks down the champs heading into the offseason.

It finally happened: The Denver Nuggets secured their first-ever NBA championship on Monday night.

After sitting in first place in the Western Conference for much of the regular season and having a nearly perfect postseason at Ball Arena, it only made sense for the Nuggets to win the title in front of their home fans. It was the crescendo to a season that has seen Nikola Jokić rise to near-consensus “best player in the game” status. And remember, he did not win NBA MVP this year.

Let’s quickly break down some of the records Jokić broke during this playoff run:

  • Most triple-doubles in a postseason (10).
  • First-ever 30-20-10 game in NBA Finals history (32 points, 21 rebounds & 10 assists in Game 3).
  • First to 500 points, 200 rebounds, and 100 assists in a single postseason.
  • First player in NBA history to lead the playoffs in total points, rebounds, and assists.

Adding a title to all of the above? That’s a decent résumé, I suppose.

Even so, Jokić won’t be able to convince everyone that he’s the best in the league — remember, Giannis still exists. But one thing is clear: He’s the perfect leader for this Denver team.

So with a title wrapped up, the eye turns toward the future with a simple question: Should the Nuggets simply run it back?

As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and with most of the playoff rotation already on the books for next season, the team can do (or not do) just that. But unless you’re the LeBron-led dynasty Heat or the all-time great Golden State Warriors, it’s tough to repeat without making at least some minor tweaks to the roster.

With that in mind, Boardroom breaks down the Nuggets’ future — who is under contract for next season, who isn’t, and the team’s options heading into an offseason of celebration in Denver.

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Denver Nuggets 2023-24 Roster

First off, let’s look at who is under contract — and for how much — next season in Denver.

Nikola Jokic$46,900,000
Jamal Murray$33,833,400
Michael Porter Jr.$33,386,850
Aaron Gordon$21,266,182
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope$14,704,938
Zeke Nnaji$4,306,281
Christian Braun$2,949,120
Peyton Watson$2,303,520
Vlatko Cancar$2,234,359

The good news? The team’s starting five from this last season is all under contract and will return in 2023-24. That’s a good place to start.

The bad news? Well, there isn’t much. The only potentially bad news is that Denver fans may notice a name missing from the above list: Bruce Brown Jr.

Brown could easily join the list above should he pick up his $6,802,950 player option. If he does, the Nuggets will return nearly every player that played at least 10-plus minutes per game this postseason. However, after coming up huge in numerous clutch moments this postseason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Brown — who has made just over $15 million for his career — want to test free agency.

For reference, Denver can only pay him $7.8 million and Brown could potentially double his career earnings in Year 1 of his future new deal.

The only other question mark is Jeff Green.

Green has had quite the NBA journey, spanning 15 seasons and an open-heart surgery, so if he retires after reaching the mountaintop this year, it would surprise precisely zero people. But as someone who still clearly has some game left in him — and, at the very least, can be a positive veteran presence on any team — perhaps Denver can convince him to come back for a bargain. (He already was, at just a $4,500,000 cap hit the last two seasons.)

Whether retirement or another team is in Green’s future, the Nuggets shouldn’t fret with most of the title-winning team still intact. They even have a player like Christian Braun, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2022, who will be under a team-friendly rookie contract through the next couple of seasons.

Braun may not be a player the team fully trusts in every situation just yet, but the rookie providing meaningful minutes in the NBA Finals — capped by a 24-minute outing in Game 5, the most he played all postseason — shows he can factor into Denver’s future plans.

So can the Denver Nuggets run it back in 2023-24? Yes. But with Brown Jr. likely to lock up a bigger contract, the Nuggets will have to get creative in how to fill that void. For his part, Brown told the Denver Post “I want to stay,” so take that for what you will. But with three players making $30-plus million and another raking in $20-plus million, it could get tough.

No matter what happens with Brown Jr., Denver will be in good hands as long as Finals MVP Jokić is around. The other four starters surrounding him are all set to return, and if GM Calvin Booth and the front office can fill the margins accordingly, the Nuggets have a chance to repeat as NBA champions.

2023-24 NBA Championship Odds

All odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook as of June 13.

  • Denver Nuggets: +460
  • Milwaukee Bucks: +460
  • Boston Celtics: +500
  • Phoenix Suns: +700
  • Golden State Warriors: +1200
  • Philadelphia 76ers: +1300
  • Los Angeles Lakers: +1500
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: +2100
  • Los Angeles Clippers: +2300
  • Miami Heat: +2700

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