By DJ SIDDIQI (247SPORTS) – Will Barton is returning to the Denver Nuggets after all.
After a little bit of flirtation with the Indiana Pacers, the veteran forward is nearing a four-year, $50 million deal with the Nuggets, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.
Will Barton #5 of the Denver Nuggets puts in a basket against Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors at the Pepsi Center on February 13, 2017 in Denver. (credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Barton has spent the past four seasons with the Nuggets after playing the first two-and-a-half years with the Portland Trail Blazers. The 27-year-old forward averaged 15.7 points and 4.4 assists per game last season, both career highs. He was widely regarded to be the top small forward on the market after the likes of Paul George and Trevor Ariza and it appears that he’ll ink a deal before either of the two star forwards, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN points out:
“There’s strong momentum with the Denver Nuggets and their free agent guard Will Barton to get a deal done quickly after the start of free agency at 12:01 AM ET on Sunday, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.”
Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets handles the ball against the Dallas Mavericks during the game on February 6, 2017 at the Pepsi Center. (credit: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, there will be a player option in Year 4, giving Barton and the Nuggets some flexibility:
For the first time in his career, Barton emerged as a starter for the Nuggets last year. Not only did he average career-highs in points and assists, he also did so across the board. He posted career-highs in efficiency, three-point percentage and minutes per game while starting a career-high 40 games. He hadn’t started more than 19 games in a single season during the previous five years of his career.
The 6-foot-6 swingman was initially acquired from the Blazers via trade midway through the 2014-15 season. With the Nuggets likely to retain their main core consisting of Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, Barton is one of the building blocks of the fringe playoff contender. Denver finished with a 40-42 record in 2016-17 and finished with a 46-36 record in 2017-18, losing the regular season finale versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. Had the Nuggets won the season finale versus Minnesota, they would have clinched a playoff berth, something they haven’t done since the 2012-13 season, when they had clinched their 10th consecutive playoff berth.
DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 04: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors drives to the basket against Will Barton #5 of the Denver Nugget at the Pepsi Center on November 4, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Barton holds career averages of 10.4 points, 3.9 boards and 2.3 assists per game on 43.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from beyond the arc in 395 appearances and 65 career stars in six years in the league.