Nuggets Lose Key Piece of Championship Team to $45M Free Agent Deal

Bruce Brown and Jamal Murray

Getty Denver Nuggets Bruce Brown reacting with Jamal Murray during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Going into free agency, there was a good chance that the defending champion Denver Nuggets were going to lose one of their most valuable pieces in guard Bruce Brown.

On the first day of free agency, June 30, ESPN reported that Brown agreed on a two-year deal with the Indiana Pacers worth $45 million.

Brown had declined his $6.8 million player option with the Nuggets right after the season to become an unrestricted free agent.

Since Denver didn’t own Brown’s Bird rights, the most they could offer their former sixth man was just $7.8 million per year.

It was clear that the Nuggets wanted Brown back, but were just trapped with how much they could offer compared to other teams that were offering nearly triple of Denver’s offer.

“Obviously Bruce is the biggest fish,” Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth told The Denver Post. “He has a million options. Waiting eagerly to see what’s going to happen when the moratorium ends. Hopefully he’s back in a Nuggets jersey.”

Even Denver’s head coach Michael Malone was hoping that Brown was going to stay in Denver during their championship parade.

Brown Was Huge for Denver’s Title Run

After spending his first four years with the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets, Brown found himself a free agent heading into the 2022 NBA season.

“The rumors coming into free agency last year was that I was getting a lot of offers, which I wasn’t. Nobody really wanted me. They didn’t know if I could be a guard or not,” Brown said on May 26 during the Western Conference Finals.

During his first four seasons in the NBA, Brown was averaging 7.6 points per game with just 2.1 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. Brown was also playing an average of 23.4 minutes per game and started in just 45 of 72 games he played in.

On July 7 of last year, Brown agreed on a two-year deal with the Nuggets worth $13 million. The Nets chose not to match the Denver’s taxpayer mid-level exception offer for Brown.

Last season with the Nuggets, Brown stayed healthy and appeared in 80 games and averaged a career high 28.5 minutes per game backing up guard Jamal Murray.

Brown finally found his groove scoring the basketball and averaged a career high 11.5 points per game off the bench with 3.4 assists per game and brought down 4.1 boards per night.

During the playoffs, Brown averaged 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals off the bench while closing out some games for Denver.

In the NBA Finals, Brown scored 21 points in Game 4 and brought down the game-winning rebound and knocked down two free throws to put the game away with 14.3 seconds left in the game.

Nuggets Kept 2 of Their Own Free Agents

About 10 minutes before the news broke that Brown was heading to Indiana, Chris Haynes reported that center DeAndre Jordan reached an agreement to return to the Nuggets.

Jordan only appeared in 39 games this past season with the Nuggets and averaged just 15 minutes per game, but he ended up becoming a huge asset for the young Nuggets team.

Having success early in his career, Jordan understood what his role was going to be with the Nuggets and that was to be another coaching voice from a player standpoint.

In fact, Jordan ended up getting playing time in Game 5 of the NBA Finals after both Nikola Jokic and Jeff Green got into foul trouble early on. The 34-year-old played three minutes and even recorded a block.

After news broke about Brown leaving, Shams Charania reported that the Nuggets were bringing back guard Reggie Jackson on a two-year deal worth $10.25 million.

Jackson, who played high school basketball in Colorado, signed with the Nuggets last February and played in just 16 games for his hometown team and averaged 7.9 points per game.

The 33-year-old has averaged 12.8 points per game along with 2.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists in his career.

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