Nuggets small forward Will Barton will not agree to a contract extension this offseason, thus officially joining the 2018 free-agent class, ESPN.com first reported.
Barton, 26, has been one of the NBA’s best sixth men for the last few seasons. He’s entering the final year of his three-year, $11 million contract. He has averaged 14.4 points and 13.7 points game during the last two seasons, respectively.
Johnson might be of the belief, as several NBA executives are, that the Pacers’ failure to surround George with better teammates has accounted for his unhappiness and public flogging of teammates during tough times. The theory goes that George’s mood will be vastly improved if he finds himself playing with better players, or returns to his native California to star for the team he grew up rooting for.
X-factor: In clutch time, can the Jazz turn to someone other than Johnson? At one point in the fourth quarter, Utah went more than six minutes without a bucket after being stuck with 96 points from 8:00 to 1:54 on the clock. The guy who finally broke that scoreless streak? Joe Johnson. Hayward and George Hill scored 66 of Utah’s 106 points for the game, so it feels odd to criticize those two, but they do need offer Johnson some sort of assistance in the final minutes.
Hill’s performance also highlighted the backup point guard issue on the Jazz bench. Quin Snyder may need to hand Raul Neto some of Shelvin Mack’s minutes because Mack isn’t producing much. The former Butler star has five points in 33 minutes for the entire series, while Neto scored five points in three minutes in Game 3 after not playing in Games 1 or 2. There at least needs to be a threat at the position, and right now, it’s not Mack.