Will Barton, Nuggets hope for return engagement next season

Will Barton, Nuggets hope for return engagement next season

Barton's on the court play is what most intrigues management.

Will Barton wants to return to the Nuggets.

The Nuggets want Will Barton to return. The two sides will work together this summer to see if they can make it happen.

"I definitely would like to come back," Barton said. "They gave me a chance. I feel like we've got some good guys on this team, and if we keep building we have a strong future."

The Nuggets acquired the shooting guard from Portland at the trade deadline in a deal involving Arron Afflalo. Prior to the trade, Barton spent the first two-and-a-half seasons of his NBA career with the Trail Blazers, who drafted him 40th overall out of Memphis in 2012. He got minimal playing time with Portland.

The trade breathed new life into Barton. He averaged 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 24.4 minutes per game with the Nuggets in the final two months of the season.

Will Barton and the Denver Nuggets want to agree on a long-term deal.

"It was big for me," he said. "It was a blessing in disguise, finally getting the chance to play some valuable minutes, and show people what I can do, show people my talent and that I can contribute and be a really good player. It meant everything to me."

The Nuggets are expected to extend a qualifying offer, which if they do will make the 6-foot-6 Barton a restricted free agent. That would give the Nuggets a chance to match any offer he would receive on the open market. The likely resolution is a multi-year contract.

Barton, a Baltimore native, was busy last week organizing a block party at a basketball court in his hometown to lend a peaceful alternative to the at times violent protests in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray.

On Instagram Barton wrote: "Leadership matters and I can't think of a better time to call on our local celebrities whether it be an athlete, musician, actor or your personal hero," he wrote. "The love we have for our kids (has) to be shown now or their future will be determined in part by our actions or lack (thereof)."

Barton was a strong lockerroom presence for the Nuggets but it was his play on the court that most intrigues management. Barton's presence allowed the Nuggets to pick up the pace on offense under interim head coach Melvin Hunt.

"I felt like I showed I can play," he said. "I'm a good playmaker, can get to the rim, can really defend. I'm going to play with a lot of heart, a lot of passion. I'm a guy that never gives up on a game and just goes out there and gives it my all. I think I proved I can be a good player in this league, given the opportunity."

Asked about the biggest changes in his game, he said, "With more game experience I've become smarter on the court. Your IQ gets higher. You become more confident because you've been playing more. But being aggressive and things like that, that don't never change. I just want to keep building on it."


Christopher Dempsey | The Denver Post | May 6 2015