Report: Will Barton rejected four-year, $42 million contract extension from Nuggets before season

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Will Barton is having a career year. He’s serving an important role as a playmaker for the Nuggets, making clutch shots, talking trash and cracking jokes. He deserves strong consideration for Sixth Man of the Year ballots.

And he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

But he could’ve gotten paid already if he wanted.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Last summer, after hiring Aaron Goodwin as his agent, Barton turned down a four-year, $42 million extension in early October, league sources told ESPN.

“I’m a starter,” Barton said. “No doubt about it. No question in my mind.”

“I think the biggest things I’m looking for is respect, honesty and a team that’s going to be real aggressive and show that they really want me,” Barton said. “I want to be where I can be able to showcase my entire game on a regular basis, somewhere they really believe in me and are ready for me to have a bigger role.”

“But I love Denver. I really want to stay with the Nuggets. This is where I got my shot, and I’m so thankful.”

That’s the same extension structure the Heat used with Josh Richardson and Raptors used with Norman Powell. Such large deals weren’t possible under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Considering their impending luxury-tax concerns, I’m surprised the Nuggets offered so much. Considering he has earned about just $9 million in five NBA seasons, I’m even more surprised Barton rejected the deal.

The full mid-level exception projects to be worth about $37 million over four years next summer. I’m hardly convinced the 27-year-old Barton can draw that much. I’d be shocked if he gets more. So few teams will have cap space.

The Nuggets could still offer Barton any amount up to the max. They’ll have his Bird Rights. Though Jamal Murray and Gary Harris comprise the long-term backcourt in Denver, Barton could become the regular starter at small forward. Wilson Chandler holds a player option for next season, and even if he exercises it, he might be declining into a reserve role. However, Barton’s playmaking is probably most valuable to the Nuggets when star Nikola Jokic rests.

Perhaps, Barton finds a team that values him as a starter with a bigger role, paying and using him accordingly. But even that team might not offer as large of an extension as Denver did. It’ll be a tight market.