The Denver Nuggets continued their post-Carmelo Anthony rebuilding effort Monday, signing restricted free agent guard Arron Afflalo to a five-year deal worth up to $43 million, a source confirmed to SI.com
It was the second time in six days that second-year Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri retained a player who he sees as a pivotal part of his team's core, as veteran center Nene signed a five-year deal potentially worth up to $67 million on Wednesday. Afflalo was widely seen as one of the most attractive talents on the free agent market, but the fifth-year player, who came over from Detroit for a second-round pick in the summer of 2009, clearly wanted to stay in Denver. Afflalo averaged 12.9 points for the Nuggets last season, shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from three-point range.
"He's an asset," Ujiri told SI.com on Monday night. "He's tough. And the way we're building our team, with good guys and strong guys and guys that are competitive, he has always lived up to it.
"At first they said he couldn't be a McDonald's All-American...and then he became a McDonald's All-American (while at Centennial High School in Compton, Calif.). Then he became very successful in college (at UCLA) with the Final Four he went to (in 2006), and then got traded from Detroit and came to us...and comes in and gets the starting spot and just continued to build a solid career. We're really happy to have him back."
The Nuggets did just fine without Anthony last year, finishing 50-32 in the regular season before falling to the Thunder in five games in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. This season, Afflalo will become an even more significant part of the Nuggets' post-Anthony plans.
"It's good for us," Ujiri said. "Now you put (the Nuggets players) on the platform and see how we perform as a team. It's a bunch of young guys with some really good veterans, with Nene and Andre Miller and Al Harrington and Birdman (Chris Anderson); those are all guys who can play. They give us good veteran leadership. And then with the young guys, we have to see what they're made of now.
"We've put a little team together here and we hope it brings some upside and some momentum from last year after the trade."
ESPN.com first reported the deal.