Timofey Mozgov will play for the Denver Nuggets in 2013-14. After months of speculation if the Nuggets would re-sign the free agent, the team agreed to a three-year, $14 million deal with the center with a third-year option today, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
After Mozogv was sent to the Nuggets via a trade with the New York Knicks for Carmelo Anthony, Mozgov averaged 5.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 15.6 minutes per game in the 2011-12 season.
His role diminished in his second year. Mozgov only played an average 8.9 minutes per game behind Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee. In only 41 appearances last season, Mozgov averaged 2.6 points and 2.6 rebounds.
Mozgov, 7-foot-1, has a lot of potential. He will see a large chunk of minutes this season behind McGee, who is the starter. If McGee doesn’t live up to his expectations halfway through the season, we could see Mozgov get the starting role. Mozgov did start 35 games for the Nuggets in 2011-12.
The 27-year-old has a decent amount of experience from playing on the Russian national team. In the 2012 Olympics in London, Mozgov helped Russia capture a bronze medal by averaging 10 points and 3.5 rebounds in 18.6 minutes. Against Brazil, he dominated with 18 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes.
The Nuggets traded their starting center, Koufos, on draft night to the Memphis Grizzlies for Darrell Arthur and the rights to No. 55 draft pick Joffery Lauvergne.
When Koufos left, the Nuggets didn’t have a legitimate backup center. New Nugget J.J. Hickson, 6-foot-9, has some experience at the position, but puts up better minutes at the power forward.
With the re-signing of Mozgov, the Nuggets are now at the 15-player maximum on their roster.
This means that rookie Erick Green won’t immediately get a contract offer. The Nuggets have until October to open up a spot for Green. If they don’t sign Green, he will likely play in the NBA Developmental League or overseas.
The new-look front office in Denver has given Mozgov an opportunity to get major minutes. First-year coach Brian Shaw must believe Mozgov will fit into his new offensive scheme better than Koufos.
Mozgov still hasn’t proven himself in the league, and the Nuggets may have paid too much to re-sign him.
Koufos’ deal will earn him $3 million per season in the next two years. The Nuggets will pay Mozgov $3.2 mill more than Koufos over that time span. Perhaps the Nuggets had to match a higher offer from the Sacramento Kings, who were recently looking into signing Mozgov.
It’s time for Mozgov to prove that he’s capable of putting up good minutes. He needs to have improved in the offseason if he wants to be a long-term part of this franchise.