The Denver Nuggets have been chasing starry veterans for several years, determined to add experience and firepower to a promising young core.
They finally landed a big one Sunday, agreeing to terms with four-time All-Star Paul Millsap on a three-year deal worth $90 million, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract cannot be signed until Thursday.
The former Atlanta forward was one of the strongest free agents remaining on the board two days into the new business year, not counting Warriors superstar Kevin Durant, who is expected to re-sign with Golden State. The Nuggets engaged with Millsap early in the process, outlasting several other teams, including the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks, whose new GM Travis Schlenk acknowledged could get outbid for the 32-year-old's services before free agency started.
Millsap gives the young Nuggets a proven veteran who should fit perfectly with coach Michael Malone and budding star Nikola Jokic. Millsap averaged a career-high 18.1 points last season to go with 7.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He is versatile offensively and is one of the league's most underrated defenders.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the agreement.
Newly elevated president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and GM Arturas Karnisovas have chased big-name veterans like Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love in trade talks or free agency over the past couple of seasons, determined to vault a rebuilding team back into contention in the powerful Western Conference.
With Paul George going from Indiana to Oklahoma City, Jimmy Butler from Chicago to Minnesota and Chris Paul from the Clippers to Houston among other significant moves in the last two weeks, it became more important than ever for the Nuggets to break through themselves.
Millsap will slide in at power forward next to Jokic, the 6-foot-10 Serbian who averaged 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season. The Nuggets also have dynamic young wings Jamal Murray and Gary Harris.
The Nuggets (40-42) improved by seven games, but still missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season. They lost out to Portland for the eighth and final spot in the West.
Millsap spent four years with Atlanta after seven with Utah. The former Louisiana Tech star has career averages of 14.2 points and 7.5 assists.