Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly says contract extensions for center Nikola Jokic and guard Will Barton are among his offseason priorities and he hinted coach Michael Malone might be in line for one Denzel Ward Browns Jersey , too.
The Nuggets have increased their win totals from 30 to 40 to 46 under Malone but they extended their playoff drought to five years when they lost in overtime at Minnesota in the season finale this week.
”This is the most confident I’ve been in our core group since I’ve been here,” said Connelly, who’s been in his post in Denver since 2013. ”I think we have the makings of a team that can enjoy sustainably high levels of success.
”I think there’s going to be some pretty interesting financial decisions we’ll make this offseason.”
Jokic was drafted in the second round in 2014 and signed a three-year, $4 million deal a year later. The Nuggets have a $1.6 million fourth-year option, which they can decline this summer and instead give Jokic a max contract.
While that would crimp their budget next season, it would keep their star away from free agency.
”He’s a guy that’s been tremendous in how quickly he’s developed and a guy that we love and he loves Denver. So, the sooner we can get his signature on a long-term contract, the better,” Connelly said Friday.
Connelly also lauded the versatile Barton’s growth, and said Roquan Smith Jersey , ”we hope we can get something done. He’s our guy. We love him and I think if he’s back in a Denver jersey, it’s good for both him and the team.”
Malone has a year left on his original four-year deal he signed in 2015. Although he wouldn’t commit to an extension for his coach this summer, Connelly made it clear how he feels about Malone and his staff, suggesting it would be foolhardy to view a 46-win season as a disappointment or a fire-able offense.
”I think Coach and his staff have done a wonderful job,” Connelly said. ”We’ve got to continue to challenge each other. We’ve got to get better. This press conference is premature. We can’t keep having it after the regular season.”
In praising Malone, Connelly cited his 16-game improvement over two years and the development of the team’s core young players, emphasizing the difficulty in coaching a young team.
The Nuggets played better than any team in the West over the last dozen games and took a six-game winning streak into the season finale against the Timberwolves. That marked the first time in franchise history that the Nuggets had posted six straight wins against teams with winning records.
Yet, their inability to close out a seventh straight victory left them lamenting a dozen or so games they frittered away during a trying season in which free agent addition Paul Millsap missed 44 games and second-leading scorer Gary Harris missed 11.
”I thought 46 wins would have us firmly in the playoffs, in a pretty good spot,” Connelly said. ”I’m certainly disappointed we didn’t make it. … But as I reflect on the season and the growth that we’ve shown Shaquem Griffin Seahawks Jersey , I’m unbelievably proud of our team.”
Yet, he’s also running low on patience.
”I thought we had extended stretches of very good basketball. I think at times we had games that were inexcusable, and those games come back to haunt you,” Connelly said.
Echoing Malone, Connelly said this season was never a ”playoffs-or-bust” undertaking, but next season certainly will have that feel.
”I think we’re there,” Connelly said. ”How many times can you be the bridesmaid?”
Mike Minor apparently isn’t superstitious. Rolling along in June after a rough May, Minor didn’t flinch when asked how he’s feeling about his new mustache.
”I think I might take it off,” the veteran left-hander said, adding that he’s getting tired of the new look.
Everything else is working pretty well at the moment.
Minor threw six solid innings Terrell Edmunds Jersey , Shin-Soo Choo homered and the Texas Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 8-1 on Friday night for their sixth consecutive victory.
Minor’s sharp performance continued a string of solid outings by Texas starters, easing the blow of a roller-coaster news day for the team’s minor league pitchers.
Aside from a 13-12 win at Colorado, Texas’ pitching staff has held opponents in check during the streak; the Rangers have outscored their opponents 26-9 in the other five games.
”Our starting pitching has been quality for us in this stretch,” manager Jeff Banister said. ”We’ve played clean defense.”
Minor (5-4) has thrown three straight quality starts for the first time since throwing six straight in 2014 for Atlanta. He allowed one run and three hits, lowering his June ERA to 2.84. Banister called it one of Minor’s best starts this year.
”Yeah, just because they haven’t been very good this year,” Minor quipped when told of Banister’s comment.
Minor faced the minimum number of batters through five innings despite a first-inning single by Brian Dozier to deep left. Dozier tried to stretch for second, but Joey Gallo had a good jump and easily threw him out to end the inning. Minor retired his next 12 batters before Max Kepler doubled in the sixth.
”He was good, especially early,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ”He didn’t have to throw a lot of pitches Mike Hughes Youth Jersey , got some first-pitch outs leading off innings, which kind of hampers the next guy up.”
Texas opened the fourth with three straight singles off Fernando Romero (3-3), including a run-scoring hit up the middle by Adrian Beltre. Rougned Odor then drove in Nomar Mazara with a fielder’s choice.
Choo’s two-run shot off Romero made it 4-0 in the fifth.
Chris Martin got three outs before Jesse Chavez finished for his first save. Choo, Mazara and Beltre each drove in runs off Matt Belisle in the ninth.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
”I forgot to turn my invisible powers on hoping he wouldn’t see me, but he did,” Dozier said of getting thrown out at second after his single in the first.
Texas had both good and bad pitching news in the minors on Friday. Joe Palumbo will continue his comeback from Tommy John surgery when he starts for the Arizona League Rangers on Sunday, and Martin Perez (elbow) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment for Class-A Hickory on Monday. On the other hand, prospect Alex Speas is set for Tommy John surgery, and Yohander Mendez – demoted to Triple-A this week for breaking unspecified team rules – was sent all the way down to Class A on Friday. The team said the move was not punitive.
WHAT A PLAY
Dozier made a diving grab at second to begin a flashy inning-ending double play in the seventh.
It was Choo’s second homer on Texas’ six-game road trip, and Friday marked his 35th straight game reaching base – the longest such streak of his 16-year career.
”I know people always talk about it Cheap Taven Bryan Jersey , the TV, my teammates,” Choo said. ”A lot of people talk about it, but I tell myself I just focus every at-bat.”
Minnesota lost by seven for the second straight night. The Twins finally broke through in the sixth when Joe Mauer’s one-out double scored Kepler, putting runners on second and third. But Minor retired Eddie Rosario and Dozier on popups, ending the threat.
Rangers: Martin (calf) was reinstated from the 10-day DL. Texas optioned Ricardo Rodriguez to Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday to make room for Martin, who was hurt while attempting to run onto the field during a benches-clearing brawl with the Dodgers last month. … Banister said he expects Perez to work at least three innings. … Sunday will mark Palumbo’s first action since April 2017.
Twins: Rosario went 0 for 4 after missing a game with shoulder soreness. … INF Eduardo Escobar pinch-hit in the eighth after taking a pitch to the elbow Thursday against Boston. Molitor said before the game he was optimistic Escobar would be ready to start Saturday. … RHP Ervin Santana (finger) threw 35 pitches to hitters on Friday. ”He said it’s one of the better days he’s had in a while, so I was encouraged by that,” Molitor said.
Rangers: Yovani Gallardo (0-0) will make his second start of 2018 after exiting Sunday’s game against Colorado trailing 5-1.
Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-4) makes his seventh career start against the Rangers and first of the season. He’s 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA against Texas.
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