During the first day of the 2024 NBA Draft, it looked like the Denver Nuggets were going to sort out their business in a timely manner, as it was reported that they are “working towards” an agreement with star guard Jamal Murray on a four-year, $209 million extension. Murray is currently entering the final year of the five-year, $170 million deal he signed in 2019, and it's an urgent matter of business for the Nuggets to secure the 27-year-old's services for the long haul.

However, the negotiations between Murray and the Nuggets haven't exactly gone as smoothly as planned. It has now been two weeks since draft night, and here the Nuggets are, still unable to come to terms to an agreement with Murray. For now, however, representing Team Canada in the 2024 Paris Olympics is the number one priority in Murray's mind.

“When we get there, we get there I guess. I am playing games right now for Canada so it’s not on my mind,” Murray told reporters following Canada's 86-72 loss to Team USA in an exhibition game on Wednesday night, via Troy Renck of The Denver Post.

It's not quite clear what exactly has caused the snag in contract extension talks between Jamal Murray and the Nuggets. Both sides were reportedly “protecting themselves” in earlier negotiations, per Ryan Blackburn of Mile High Sports, with the Nuggets not offering a “straight up, plain max extension offer”.

Whatever the case may be, the Nuggets have to sort this situation out quickly. Nikola Jokic is already under contract for at least three more seasons (with a player option for the 2027-28 campaign), and it will not be in the Nuggets' best interest to break up the Jokic and Murray two-man dance that was the backbone of their run to the championship in 2023.

But indeed, for now, Jamal Murray is focusing on being his best self for Team Canada as they look to build upon their bronze-medal finish in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Last season with the Nuggets, Murray averaged 21.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game on 48/43/85 shooting splits.

The Nuggets are feeling the financial strain of winning

Winning in the NBA comes at the cost. With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in effect, contending teams are finding it even more difficult to keep their championship core intact. This was the case for the Nuggets this offseason; they decided to let Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, an invaluable member of their 2023 championship team, walk after he agreed to a three-year, $66 million deal with the Orlando Magic in free agency.

Bringing Caldwell-Pope back would have required the Nuggets to blow past the second tax apron, and they simply did not feel comfortable doing so. After all, with Jamal Murray's impending huge contract extension, the Nuggets will be a second tax apron team anyway, with upwards of $160 million committed to just the core four of Nikola Jokic, Murray, Aaron Gordon, and Michael Porter Jr. Expect the Nuggets to eventually strike an agreement with Murray, but that may not come until after the 2024 Paris Olympics.

This is the price the Nuggets ownership group must pay to continue fielding a winning team; talent comes at a cost, and while Jokic is in the prime years of his career, it will be in their best interest to surround him with as much talent as possible. The key for the Nuggets now is to hit on the draft picks they make, as acquiring quality young talent on rookie deals will be crucial in keeping them afloat.

Trading Zeke Nnaji should also be on the cards; he's making an average of around $8 million annually for the next three years, and that may not be the best use of the Nuggets' resources right now.

Jamal Murray and Team Canada's quest for gold

Jamal Murray was supposed to join Team Canada in their 2023 FIBA World Cup journey. Alas, Murray was coming off his first full season after tearing his ACL in 2021, and the Nuggets went all the way and earned the right to be called NBA champion. Thus, it was in everyone's best interest for Murray to rest to avoid the risk of re-aggravation.

But now, Murray will be suiting up for Team Canada as they look to play spoiler in Team USA's bid to redeem themselves from a disappointing showing last year. Murray will be lining up alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, RJ Barrett, Dillon Brooks, Luguentz Dort, Kelly Olynyk, and a few other NBA players — giving Canada one of the deepest lineups in the competition.

Team Canada, however, will have to set their sights first on overcoming the group of death. They were drawn to Group A, where they'll be facing Spain, Australia, and Greece — an unforgiving set of opponents.