NUGGETS

Nuggets bench piece joins one of Denver’s biggest rivals

Jul 1, 2024, 4:23 PM

Another member of the Denver Nuggets championship roster is moving on, backup guard Collin Gillespie has signed a new two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns, according to ESPN.

Going undrafted the Nuggets made it a priority to pick up Gillespie, a former NCAA champion with Villanova who was twice an All-American and won the Bob Cousy Award for best guard in the country. Gillespie had a decent showing in his first summer league with Denver but suffered a major leg break in the offseason keeping him out his entire rookie season. He watched from the bench as the Nuggets were crowned champions.

In year two, Gillespie found a suitable role as a third-string point guard for the Nuggets. He played in 24 games, 11 of which were as a rotation member rather than just garbage time. He’s tallied 15 threes on a good shooting percentage in his young career and has tallied 27 assists to go with 21 rebounds.

The 25-year-old became a solid friend of Nikola Jokic and a liked member of the roster.

But he was on the outside looking in for the Nuggets roster with Jalen Pickett drafted last year to fill the same role and Denver signing Creighton’s Trey Alexander to a two-way contract. Denver dumped Reggie Jackson and is clearly looking for a second-string guard, factoring in Pickett and Alexander for the third-string spot. Among the Nuggets possibilities for the gig is Russell Westbrook.

Alexander hopes to become the latest Nugget to find success on a two-way contract joining notable players like Monte Morris, Torrey Craig and Davon Reed, who later became full-time players.

Meanwhile, Gillespie follows in the footsteps of Craig to join the Suns. Phoenix has had its fair share of battles with the Nuggets the last few years. The two teams have met in the playoffs in two of the last four seasons with each scoring such a big series defeat that it forced the other to re-tool their roster. And since the Suns don’t have a true point guard to run their star lineup, that could be a better opportunity for Gillespie—the backup guard and just a role player for the stacked ‘Cats team of Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman, Eric Paschall and Jermaine Samuels, who all ended up in the NBA after winning it all. As of Monday, Gillespie is the lone true point guard on the roster despite being on a two-way contract which limits his time in the NBA and pushes him into the G League a lot.

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