2 best players Nuggets must re-sign in 2024 NBA free agency

Tony Nguyen | Denver Nuggets
June 8, 2024

The Denver Nuggets season came to a surprising early end after being dispatched by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs. The Nuggets were fresh off of their first franchise championship win in 2023, but they were unable to defend their title. While their season shouldn’t be labeled as “unsuccessful”, not winning a championship after a dominant season can be disappointing. However, the Nuggets find themselves back at the drawing board to build up for another championship run next season.

Heading into next year, the majority of the team’s core will remain intact. This means they’ll just have to find a few pieces to help finish off their roster puzzle. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, they do not have much cap room to make any big, flashy signings in free agency. Also because of this small cap space, they might not have enough money to re-sign some of their free agents. Let’s take a look at some of the best players the Nuggets must re-sign.

Right after the Nuggets won their championship, they wasted no time and hopped right into the free-agent market to pick up veteran small forward Justin Holiday. Holiday would sign a one-year, veteran minimum deal worth around $3.2M. Holiday had spent the previous season with the Dallas Mavericks, where he saw very little time on the court. With the Nuggets, Holiday would primarily serve in a bench role that allowed him to see a bit more time on the court, in comparison to his season with the Mavericks. Holiday would see a massive increase in minutes in the Nuggets playoff run, where he essentially stepped into Peyton Watson’s role. Watson has not been nearly as productive as head coach Michael Malone had hoped for, so in came Holiday.

Offensively, Holiday contributes by being a steady and efficient scorer. While not a primary offensive option, his ability to knock down open shots and make smart decisions with the ball seriously helped the Nuggets in the playoffs. While Holiday’s numbers weren’t exactly jumping off the page, Malone was getting a more positive output from him than the youngster Watson.

The Nuggets should try to get Holiday back on a veteran minimum contract for next season. With the young players on the Nuggets still finding their footing, Holiday could provide a blend of offensive and defensive versatility, while also bringing in his veteran experience.

Technically, Caldwell-Pope is not a free agent. He has a player option worth $15.4M, which some analysts predict he will decline. Should Caldwell-Pope decline his player option, he will become a free agent. This doesn’t mean his time with the Nuggets is immediately over, though. The Nuggets would still be able to offer him a new contract. But as mentioned earlier, the Nuggets are seriously strapped for cash.

Caldwell-Pope has established himself as a vital component of the Nuggets’ starting five, primarily through his three-point shooting and exceptional perimeter defense. Defensively, Caldwell-Pope is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. His strong defensive instincts and ability to guard multiple positions allow him to essentially neutralize opposing teams’ top perimeter threats. With the Western Conference showcasing a myriad of offensive superstars, losing Caldwell-Pope could potentially hurt the Nuggets. The Nuggets let Bruce Brown walk in free agency last season, and it quickly became evident how badly he was missed on offense. Will the Nuggets let Caldwell-Pope walk too, and find out the hard way how much he is missed on defense?

The Nuggets have a lot of factors to consider. Caldwell-Pope is 31, and faced some injury setbacks last season. Caldwell-Pope also averaged 10.1 points per game, had a FG percentage of 46%, and a three-point percentage of 40.6%. If you were the Nuggets, would this be a good enough performance to warrant a new contract? And is this an effective enough performance for a fifth man in a starting lineup?

His championship experience and defensive dominance have been valuable assets in Denver. The Nuggets should definitely consider bringing him back. For the right price, that is.