Will Barton has refused to sign a contract extension with the Denver Nuggets, making him an unrestricted free-agent in 2018. Chris Payne of ESPN reported the outcome of the negotiation between Barton’s party and the Nuggets front-office last weekend.

According to Payne, the Nuggets have long expected Barton to turn down any contract extension – unless it is a max deal – for him to test the free-agency water at the height of his career. Barton averaged 13.7 points on 44 percent FG shooting and 37 percent from beyond the arc. He also chipped in 4.3 boards and 3.7 assists in just over 28 minutes per contest for the Nuggets.

Not signing a contract extension is a gamble for Barton, but another strong performance could give him more leverage in negotiation in the summer of 2018. Barton’s camp believes he can get a contract worth at least $18MM per year based on the 4-year, $70MM contracts Kent Bazemore, Evan Turner and Allan Crabbe received last free-agency season.

Potential Trade

Barton’s decision not to re-sign has made himself a more enticing trade target for teams looking for firepower on their roster. The New Orleans Pelicans and the Washington Wizards attempted to trade for Barton, but the Nuggets turned down their offers because they were in the middle of a playoff chase at that time.

However, NBA insiders think the Nuggets will be more willing to deal Barton now as they look to maximize his trade value before he gets the opportunity to bolt out.

Again, the Wizards and the Pelicans are expected to revive their interest in Barton but expect other teams like the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Houston Rockets to join the fray as well.

Gallinari is priority but defense first

Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly stressed that re-signing Danillo Gallinari is the no.1 priority this offseason.

However, they are also looking at several free agents who could help boost their no.27 ranked defense at 111.2 points allowed per game.

According to Nick Kosminer of the Denver Post, the Nuggets might take a close look at Serge Ibaka, Blake Griffin, Tony Allen, Thabo Sefolosha and even restricted free-agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to improve their interior and perimeter defense.

Connelly has also expressed his desire to re-sign Mason Plumlee, whom they acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic.

As for Gallinari, it would be hard for the Nuggets to sign defensive-oriented free-agents and retain him on a max deal. The Heat, Celtics, and Sixers are just a few teams who will line up for his service in free-agency.