The Nuggets and Richard Jefferson are closing in on a one-year, $2.3 million veteran’s minimum contract, league sources confirmed to BSN Denver.
The contract was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Denver plans to waive Jameer Nelson, per Wojnarowski, signaling that Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay will be the team’s primary two point guards. In 75 games (40 starts) last season, Nelson averaged 9.2 points and 5.1 assists and helped guide the Nuggets into contention for the Western Conference’s eighth seed. Nelson is owed $4.7 million this season.
If the Nuggets do waive Nelson they’re placing a lot of faith in Mudiay, who has struggled mightily during his first two seasons in the league, to give them quality minutes. Mudiay spent the final third of last season out of the rotation as the Nuggets’ third-string point guard but has been drawing rave reviews throughout Denver’s training camp and preseason.
Jefferson, 37, was traded to the Hawks in a Cleveland Cavaliers’ salary dump last week and was later waived by Atlanta. Last season, Jefferson averaged 5.7 points last season across 79 games for the Cavs, shot 44.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three. The 6-foot-7 wing has logged 140 playoff games during his 16-year-career.
Jefferson appeared in 14 games during Cleveland’s 2016-17 playoff run and averaged 3.9 points in 12.8 minutes per game.
Nuggets’ president Josh Kroenke has a strong personal friendship with Jefferson and appeared on an episode of his Road Trippin‘ podcast last season with former teammate Channing Frye. The two developed a relationship when Jefferson was playing for the New Jersey Nets and Kroenke had just finished school.
“I just hurt my wrist. My team told me I was done for the season. I had just signed a max contract. Josh had just finished school and we decided to go out and drink every single night in New York,” Jefferson said on a March episode about his relationship with Kroenke.
In Jefferson, Denver would get a seasoned veteran with playoff experience to help nurture a young roster and rotation that has heightened playoff expectations with the addition of free agent Paul Millsap.
The swingman would also give the Nuggets back a bit of the lineup versatility they lost when forward Danilo Gallinari signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in July. Some of Denver’s most efficient lineups last year were when they played Gallinari and Wilson Chandler next to each other at the three and the four.