Reports: Denver picks up $30 million option for Paul Millsap

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After surveying the free agency landscape, the Denver Nuggets decided to bank on internal improvement — Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray will be a year older, they add Michael Porter Jr. to the mix, get Gary Harris healthy — and keeping financial flexibility next season and beyond.

The Nuggets are picking up the $30 million option on Paul Millsap‘s contract, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Denver Nuggets have exercised a $30 million option on forward Paul Millsap’s contract for next season, bringing back a key player for the franchise’s pursuit of a Western Conference title, league sources told ESPN on Saturday.

Denver can keep Millsap, hold onto its $9.2M mid-level exception and still stay out of the luxury tax next season.

The move has been confirmed by Michael Singer of the Denver Post.

The Nuggets had talked to Millsap’s representatives about not picking up his option then re-signing him to a longer-term deal that would have paid less money per year but more money over multiple years. That never came together in a deal that worked for all sides.

Nuggets fans saw their team as the No. 2 seed and an up-and-coming team in the West and those fans wanted the Nuggets to make a big splash in free agency (especially with the Lakers and others doing just that). Specifically to go after Tobias Harris. This move by Nuggets management was a recognition, after looking at the market with sober eyes, that the smart move was to count on internal improvement, fill a need with the mid-level exception (and in a summer with more than 200 free agents there will be value at that number), and be ready to make big moves in the future.

Millsap is also critical to what the Nuggets do. He averaged 12.6 points and 7 rebounds a game, shot 36.5 percent from three, but more importantly was the Nuggets defense was 2.7 points per 100 possessions better when Millsap was on the court. In the playoffs, the Nuggets were +10.5 per 100 when Millsap was on the court, he is the glue that makes it all work.

Whatever the West looks like next season, the Nuggets are going to be a threat. Millsap is a big part of that.

In other Nuggets news, they will keep their options open with Trey Lyles.