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Down three starters and with more than 50 percent of their current payroll on their latest injury report, the Nuggets are bringing in reinforcements.
Denver signed guard Nick Young Monday to the injury hardship relief exception granted by the NBA. In a corresponding move, the team waived guard Brandon Goodwin. Young passed his physical with the Nuggets and went through shootaround Monday morning. He’ll be available to Nuggets coach Michael Malone Monday night as Denver attempts to end a two-game losing streak.
Young, 33, averaged 7.3 points per game last season with the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Across 80 games (8 starts), he shot 41.2 percent from three. A career 37 percent three-point shooter, Young gives the Nuggets, who are without two of their top shooters in Gary Harris (right hip injury) and Will Barton (right hip/core muscle surgery), another threat from beyond the arc. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, who both hit better than 37 percent of their three last season, are also shooting just 28.6 and 30.6 percent from distance respectively this season.
Denver is also without starting power forward Paul Millsap (broken toe), who is shooting a career-high 40 percent from three. Trey Lyles, his replacement in the starting lineup Saturday in Atlanta, is another member of the Nuggets’ under-30 percent club from beyond the arc. Lyles shot 2-13 from the field in the Nuggets’ 106-98 loss to the Hawks and 1-7 from three.
Injuries have hit the Nuggets’ rotation so hard over the last few weeks that Denver only played eight players on the second night of a back-to-back in Atlanta. The only active players who did not appear in Saturday’s loss were Goodwin, second-year forward Tyler Lydon, and two-way players Thomas Welsh and DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell. Those four players have combined to log just 61 NBA minutes throughout their careers, all of which have come exclusively in garbage time.
The Nuggets, who had been in contact with Young for the past month, reached back out to the 6-foot-7 guard on Friday and a few hours later Young was on a flight bound for Denver from Los Angeles, where he spent four seasons with the Lakers.
With over 716 career regular season under his belt, the 6-foot-7 guard brings veteran experience to a young Nuggets locker room. He’s also played in 35 career playoff games and averaged 10.3 minutes per game during the Warriors’ championship run last season.
Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly has familiarity with Young from working in the Washington Wizards’ front office. Young was drafted by the Wizards in 2007 and spent 4 1/2 seasons with the organization. Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. also coached in Washington when young was with the Wizards.
Young will wear No. 34 for the Nuggets.