Gary Harris is about to get paid.
For real this time.
The fourth-year combo guard/safety-net 3 is eligible to sign an extension before the start of the regular season, at which time, if he hasn’t inked one, he’ll gear up for restricted free agency next summer. The general consensus all summer has been that the Denver Nuggets and Harris will be hammer out a deal before the deadline. But, with opening night fast approaching, might this have changed?
General manager Tim Connelly said so to The Denver Post‘s Gina Mizell:
Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas told The Denver Post that a contract extension with starting shooting guard Gary Harris is “in the works” and that he hopes the organization and Harris “can get something done before the season starts.”
“He’s been such a huge part of what we’re trying to do here, a representation of what we’re building here,” Karnisovas said of Harris during a visit to The Denver Post’s newsroom. “Him going through trade rumors and still staying with us and being consistent and being a good leader for our guys and (knowing) how to do it, he was the ultimate professional.
“We’re trying to find ways to keep him here as long as we can.”
Something’s different about this totally predictable update—aside from the imminent deadline.
If you’re the Nuggets, you want to lock down Harris more than ever following the Josh Richardson and Norman Powell extensions. Both received four-year, $42 million pacts. Harris, a first-round prospect and more established scorer and playmaker, could net something like double that on the open market next July, even with the salary-cap crunch projected to continue.
Rather than subjecting themselves to a potential over-the-top offer, the Nuggets might as well get this done now, safeguarding them against both a breakout that drums up his value even further and/or an above-market offer delivered from a hyper-aggressive rival.
Granted, signing Harris now eats into Denver’s cap space for the summer. His hold until he signs a new deal will be roughly $7.7 if he enters restricted free agency. Putting pen to paper now could come close to tripling that.
But the Nuggets are in a unique situation, thanks to Nikola Jokic’s deal. If they pick up his team option, or decline it and just float his hold until every other matter is settled, they’ll still be able to carve out some wiggle room. Worst-case scenario, if it can even be considered that: They’ll offload Kenneth Faried’s expiring contract for nothing and let Wilson Chandler walk (player option), essentially making Harris’ new salary a complete wash.
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