The Denver Nuggets have been around for a long time. This storied franchise was established in 1967 — then the Denver Rockets — and they have had a pretty interesting history since. Part of that history is how they have had success in free agency over the years. Below is our top five list of Denver’s best free-agent signings ever.
After being named to the All-Star team during the 2003-04 campaign with the New Jersey Nets, Kenyon Martin made his way to Denver on a sign-and-trade deal. The Nuggets gave up three future first-round picks in exchange for the 6-foot-9 big man, who appeared to have already made up his mind to play in the Mile High City.
Martin ended up playing for the Nuggets for seven seasons, during which he averaged 12.3 points (on 49.6 percent shooting), 7.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. Denver made it to the playoffs in all seven seasons, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2009.
In the 2003 offseason, Andre Miller signed for the Nuggets as a free agent. This was at the same time Denver drafted Carmelo Anthony as the third overall pick, and there’s no denying that Miller had a huge impact on Melo’s career early on. The 6-foot-3 guard was instrumental for the team, as he helped the Nuggets to three consecutive postseason trips before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the Allen Iverson deal.
Miller had a second stint with Denver between 2011 and 2014, but this was already in the tail end of his career.
The Nuggets acquired the services of Millsap in 2017, after his former team, the Atlanta Hawks renounced their free-agent exception rights on him. This was a huge win for Denver, considering how the 6-foot-7 power forward was coming off four straight All-Star appearances prior to joining the Nuggets. Denver is not exactly a prime destination for free agents, but they were still able to convince Millsap to come on board.
This came out to the tune of $90 million for three years — which may sound like a lot of money for a player that will be 35 by the time that three years is up. As expected, Millsap’s numbers declined with the Nuggets with Father Time slowly catching up to him. A myriad of injuries has also prevented him from becoming his best self in Denver. But nevertheless, he was able to step into that crucial veteran role for a young and inexperienced squad.
The Nuggets finished the 2018-19 regular season as the second-best team in a ruthless Western Conference. And there’s no denying that Millsap was a huge part of the team’s success that season.
Marcus Camby first joined the Nuggets in 2002 as part of a trade deal with the New York Knicks. Two years later, the 6-foot-11 big man entered free agency, but instead of signing with another team, he opted to stay in Denver, where he would spend the next four years of his career.
During this span, Camby proved to be one of the most important pieces of the squad. The Nuggets went on four straight postseason appearances. This was during the Carmelo Anthony era in Denver, and Camby was the presence down the middle that the team required at that time. The former second overall pick was one of the best defensive big men back then, and a testament to this fact was his Defensive Player of the Year win during the 2006-07 season. Camby also led the league in blocks for three consecutive years, averaging 3.4 swats per game during that span.
All in all, Camby spent six seasons with the Nuggets, and boasts averages of 10.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals, and 3.0 blocks per game.
Former Alabama standout Antonio McDyess was selected second overall in the 1995 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers but was quickly traded to the Nuggets, where he would play the first two seasons of his career. Entering his third year, Denver shipped him off to the Phoenix Suns. McDyess played for only one season in Phoenix before returning to the Nuggets as a free agent. That signing was actually quite a contentious turn of events, with reports stating that a number of members of the Suns even flew to Denver to try and convince McDyess to stay with their team. After some back-and-forth talks, McDyess eventually put pen to paper on a deal with the Nuggets.
In his second stint, McDyess had three excellent seasons with the team. He averaged 20.2 points (on 49.3 percent shooting), 10.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.8 blocks. He was also selected to the All-Star squad once, during the 2000-01 campaign.
Unfortunately, McDyess suffered a career-changing knee injury the following season. He returned more than a year later (with a different team), but he was a shadow of his former self.