Nuggets extend backup center Zeke Nnaji with four-year, $32 million contract

The Denver Nuggets have shown their belief in Zeke Nnaji and are set to utilize him as Nikola Jokic’s primary backup at the five in the upcoming season.

To solidify their faith in Nnaji’s abilities, the Nuggets have extended his rookie contract, agreeing to a four-year, $32 million deal. This news was initially reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and has since been confirmed by multiple Nuggets writers.

The extension includes a player option in the fourth year. This agreement marks an important milestone for Nnaji as it secures his salary at $4.3 million for the current season, with a significant increase next year. Both parties consider this deal to be equitable. While backup center positions do not typically command large contracts, this extension rewards Nnaji while providing the Nuggets stability in that role.

Although Nnaji showed proficiency finishing at the rim last season, accounting for 52% of his shot attempts, he also aimed to expand his game as a floor spacer, averaging one three-point attempt per game. However, his three-point shooting percentage was relatively low at 26.2%. Nevertheless, Nnaji’s value lies primarily on the defensive end, where he has developed into a versatile and impactful force.

Nnaji will be a key contributor to a new-look second unit for the Nuggets, as they have undergone roster changes with the departures of Bruce Brown and Jeff Green. The team is heavily relying on young players such as Nnaji, Christian Braun, rookie Julian Strawther, and experienced guards Reggie Jackson and Justin Holiday. While the Nuggets boast one of the league’s top duos in Jokic and Jamal Murray, and retain their entire championship-winning starting lineup, the bench will play a crucial role in their pursuit of another title. Nnaji’s role extends not only to this season but also to the future.


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