Aaron Gordon Rumors: Nuggets, Forward 'Share Mutual Optimism' on Contract Extension

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 30, 2021

Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The Denver Nuggets and veteran forward Aaron Gordon have "mutual optimism" about putting pen to paper on a new contract, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

Singer reported an agreement could be in place as early as this week and that one source posited Gordon could sign for two or three years with an average salary of around $20  million.

That range would match the four-year, $80 million extension he signed with the Orlando Magic, which is due to expire after the upcoming season.

Gordon averaged 10.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 25 regular-season games after joining the Nuggets ahead of the NBA trade deadline. The 25-year-old also put up 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in the playoffs, shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three-point territory in 10 appearances.

Singer noted how Jamal Murray's torn ACL had an adverse impact for Gordon. Beyond taking away Denver's primary playmaker in the backcourt, the 6'8" forward had to assume a bigger offensive role to compensate for Murray's absence.

In his third game with the Nuggets, Gordon dropped 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in a 101-94 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. That's the kind of production the franchise will want to see from him when he's again playing alongside Murray, who scored a team-high 23 in that April 1 game.

The Nuggets also have to consider what they gave up for Gordon—Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and a protected 2025 first-round pick—and how difficult it might be to sign a suitable replacement should he leave.

Despite having Murray and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, Denver probably won't be in the hunt for the top free agents in 2022.

With Michael Porter Jr. eligible to become a restricted free agent, general manager Calvin Booth might be tying up a lot of money in the frontcourt and could have the organization approaching the luxury tax. Per Spotrac, the Nuggets are projected to have a total payroll of $169.6 million, which includes a combined $40.4 million in cap holds for Gordon and Porter.

But Denver can't afford to get cheap when it has an open championship window. And unless a better solution suddenly emerges, the team's best shot at a title comes with Gordon on the roster.