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Nuggets president Connelly says ownership willing to pay luxury tax for contender

Denver Nuggets

DENVER, CO - APRIL 29 : Tim Connelly, president of basketball operations of the Denver Nuggets, is in the press conference at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on Friday, April 29, 2022.(Photo by Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Denver Post via Getty Images

Things are about to get very expensive in Denver.

The Nuggets are about $6 million over next season’s luxury tax line with just 10 players signed, thanks to Michael Porter Jr.'s extension kicking in. This July, they will offer Nikola Jokic a five-year supermax extension worth at least $255 million — the largest contract in NBA history — and he said he will sign it (that extension doesn’t start until the 2023-24 season).

The Dever Nuggets are lined up to be a luxury tax team for years, and this is not a franchise where ownership historically has been willing to pay the tax. However, that will change for a contender, team president Tim Connelly told the media after the Nuggets were eliminated from the playoffs. Via Ryan Blackburn:

Most owners say something similar: They are willing to pay the tax for a contender. Of course, it’s one thing to say that and it’s another to actually write the checks — the actions of Connelly and the Denver front office over the coming months and years will show us what the limits are on that spending.

The Nuggets, if healthy, are a contender. This was a 48-win team that pushed the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs without their second and third best players due to injury, Jamal Murray and Porter Jr. If those two show up to training camp healthy and ready to play, the Nuggets have to be mentioned as contenders (in a West growing deep with them). The Nuggets would have been a contender the last two playoffs if healthy.

Starting next season the window is open in Denver — they have a chance. How long that window remains open is the question only Connelly and ownership can answer.