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Kenneth Faried excited to see what Emmanuel Mudiay will do in Denver

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Kenneth Faried doesn’t want to hear it — no competitor does — but the reality is this is going to be a bit of a rebuilding campaign in Denver. They are not a playoff bound team, certainly not in the West; rather this is a year to fit in the pieces under new coach Mike Malone and build a foundation.

But when you have a rookie point guard there will be rough patches, and the Nuggets are going to have a rookie point guard — Emmanuel Mudiay.

Faried, for one, wants to see what the kid can bring. That’s what he told rappler.com while over in the Philippines.

“I have high expectations for him because he’s basically going to be our starting point guard and the Nuggets have high expectations,” said Faried, who signed a 4-year, $50 million rookie extension with Denver in October 2014.

“I just want to make sure he’s coached – that’s the only thing I want to make sure. I’m pretty sure he is and everybody says he is so I’m excited to see what happens.”

Mudiay impressed in Las Vegas at Summer League, in part because while all the other rookies were playing frenetic ball, looking like chickens with their heads cut off, Mudiay was patient and under control. He knew how to use his body to create space and draw contact, plus he showed fantastic court vision.

He also looked like a rookie at times and his shooting needs work. Which means it’s going to be a bumpy ride in Denver while he finds his footing in the NBA.

The Nuggets have veterans who can make Mudiay’s life easier — Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler — but it’s going to take time. Particularly with a new coach and a new system. Nuggets fans, who have already seen some ugly basketball the past few years, are going to get more of it this season. But this time there is some real hope for what could be built.

Danilo Gallinari says he didn’t see Nuggets’ extension offer coming

Danilo Gallinari, Derrick Favors

In July, the Nuggets signed Danilo Gallinari to a three-year, $45 million extension. It was unusual because it wasn’t just a few more years on his current deal, it included a restructuring of the final year of that contract. The move came as something of a surprise to a lot of people, including Gallinari himself.

From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post:

“I was very fast in saying yes to this extension,” Gallinari said. “I’m very happy to stay in Denver. This extension came because of the people in Denver, the fact that I’ve been in Denver for awhile now and the fact that I love the city.”

Gallinari said he’s been pleased with the moves the team has made this summer. He’s talked extensively with new coach Michael Malone on the phone and expects to get his first face-to-face chat with the coach when Malone travels to see Gallinari play for Italy in the upcoming European Championships.

“I’m very confident in the choices they made this summer in changing the coach and everything,” Gallinari said. “They are doing everything possible in their capacity to win. And I think that they made the right choices, and hopefully we can start winning again starting this season.”

Under the current CBA, it rarely makes sense for veterans to sign contract extensions, even if they plan to stay with their current team. They’re limited to a three-year deal, and limited in the size of the raise they can get. It’s simply possible to make more money as a free agent than it is under an extension.

But the Nuggets are in a unique position with Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, who also signed a restructured extension. Because the Nuggets are under the cap, they can renegotiate the existing portion of Gallinari’s deal (which is normally prohibited) and give him a raise, as long as it fits under their cap space, and then base the yearly raises in subsequent years of his extension on that number. Gallinari was slated to make $11.5 million in 2015-16, but the Nuggets bumped that number up to $14 million and tacked two more years onto the end, including a player option in 2017-18.

For Gallinari, taking the extra guaranteed money now makes sense given his injury history, and the Nuggets get to lock him up for a price that will seem reasonable in the coming years when the salary cap jumps.

Nuggets GM Tim Connelly: Denver will be better than last season

Denver Nuggets Emmanuel Mudiay Press Conference

The Nuggets won 30 games last year.

They did it with Ty Lawson leading the team in starts, Arron Afflalo ranking fourth and Timofey Mozgov fifth.

Denver traded  Mozgov (to the Cavaliers) and Afflalo (to the Trail Blazers) during the season and Lawson (to the Rockets) this summer. In their place, Denver added rookies Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic and reserves Nick Johnson and Joey Dorsey this offseason.

The Nuggets also hired Michael Malone to replace Brian Shaw as coach.

Does that add up to an improved team?

Denver general manager Tim Connelly, via Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post:

“I fully expect to be better than last year,” Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly said. “I don’t want to put any concrete barometer on what’s good or bad this year. But we’ll be better.”

I generally like the Nuggets’ offseason. Mudiay was an excellent pick, and it was smart to renegotiate and extend Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari. Paying those players more now, when Denver had cap space to burn, will provide helpful savings on the back end of their deals. Once the Nuggets decided they needed to trade Lawson, getting a first-rounder and a couple decent players was a solid return.

That doesn’t translate to an immediately improved team, though.

Lawson, issues considered, was still a very good point guard. Mudiay showed tremendous promise during summer league, but he’s still a rookie at a difficult position.

Maybe Malone coaches better than Shaw. Maybe Gallinari stays healthy and builds on his late-season success. Maybe Jusuf Nurkic continues to develop. Maybe Kenneth Faried defends better.

In fact, I’d consider each of those likely (especially Malone coaching better than Shaw). But relying on a rookie point guard, even a talented one, could undermine all of it.

And that’s fine.

The Nuggets are in a better place with Mudiay. It’s OK if that means fewer wins next season, as long as Mudiay progresses throughout the season.

There’s nothing wrong with a general manager knowingly overstating his team’s ability. That happens all the time, and it generally serves just to excite fans.

But there is a problem with a general manager unknowingly overstating his team’s ability. That often leads to more mistakes down the road.

The Nuggets have struggled to set a direction in recent years, so there’s definitely potential for this to be problematic. There’s also potential for them to exceed expectations, making Connelly’s intent irrelevant.

But the reasonable projection has Denver winning about 30 games again – maybe a few more, but maybe a few less.

Report: Nuggets, Danilo Gallinari reach two-year contract extension

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets have shipped Ty Lawson out the door for pennies on the dollar, However, some of the other guys rumored to be moved by the Nuggets are staying put. At least for now. For example, there is Wilson Chandler, who agreed to a contract extension with the team 10 days ago.

Now it’s Danilo Gallinari’s turn.

The Italian forward with a deft scoring touch — he averaged 12.4 points a game last season and improved in the second half — has reached a deal on a two-year contract extension with the team, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari is finalizing an agreement on a two-year extension worth an additional $34 million on his contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The deal is a restructuring that includes a $2.5 million increase on the $11.5 million owed to Gallinari as he enters the final year of his contract in 2015-16, sources said. Under the newly negotiated terms, Gallinari will make $14 million this season, the first of a deal that runs through the 2017-18 season, sources said. He will make $15.5 million in 2016-17 and has a player option worth $16.1 million for the third year of the deal and a full trade kicker, sources said.

I like the deal for Denver. If you think that’s too much for Gallinari, you are forgetting two things. First, the salary cap is about to spike by around $40 million, as it does this deal looks better and better. Second, Gallinari can score the rock. Once he got healthy and comfortable last season he was putting up numbers — he averaged 18.6 points per game and shot better than 40 percent from three after the All-Star break. He just got paid like a scorer.

The risk is that Gallinari has battled knee injuries. He got right last season, but is spending the summer playing for the Italian national team.

With this extension, Gallinari cannot be traded until January 21, 2016. Similarly, Chandler cannot be moved until next January either. While that allows time before the trade deadline (and the multiple years make it easier to trade those players because they are not rentals), it also gives new Nuggets coach Mike Malone time to see what he’s got. Can these veterans fit in as part of the Emmanuel Mudiay future in Denver? Also, it gives the Nuggets time to raise the players’ trade profile, should they decide to shop them anyway.

If one Nugget were likely to still get traded in the coming weeks or during training camp, it would be Kenneth Faried. The Nuggets will still listen to offers for him.

Report: Nuggets want to extend Danilo Gallinari’s contract

Ambassadors - Expo 2015

The Nuggets just re-signed Jameer Nelson. They extended Wilson Chandler’s contract. Despite rumors, they have not traded Kenneth Faried.

Is Denver – with the probable exception of Ty Lawson, who could be replaced by the talented Emmanuel Mudiay – keeping the band together?

Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post:

they’d like to open talks on an extension for Danilo Gallinari as well, according to a league source.

Gallinari is slated to earn $11,559,225 next season. Unless the Nuggets clear cap space, they can’t renegotiate-and-extend, as they did with Chandler.

The most Gallinari could make in an extension is $40,074,388 three years. But that would mean the Nuggets can’t trade him for sixth months.

If they extend him for up to $24,702,353 over two years, they could trade him immediately.

To a certain degree, this might be about seeing what new coach Michael Malone can do with a talented roster. Denver’s front-office staff surely believes it assembled a strong group.

But it could also be about increasing Gallinari’s trade value. Teams should value him more highly if he’s not a pending free agent. His name has been on the rumor mill, including reports of recent talks with the Celtics.

For Gallinari, an extension provides security. He has had injury issues, and playing out next season without a long-term deal carries risk. But I think he’d get more as an unrestricted free agent in 2016, when the salary cap skyrockets. The forward played exceptionally well late last season.

This will come down to just how much Gallinari wants to gamble on his health. The Nuggets should be willing to offer his max extension – even that puts trade possibilities on hold. There’d be plenty of time to deal him January if they so desire.