DENVER -- Brandon Marshall is no stranger to assists. As an NFL linebacker, he often joins in on tackles with teammates. However last weekend he provided help in a way never imagined.
A confluence of factors came together for Marshall to play a role in the Denver Nuggets landing four-time All-Star forward Paul Millsap. In an exclusive interview, Marshall told Denver7 how it came together.
"Me and (Nuggets president) Tim Connelly are pretty good friends and I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help recruit an NBA free agent," said Marshall, who also spends part of his offseason in Atlanta. "And I definitely want every team in Colorado to improve and be great."
Marshall told Denver7 he and Nuggets guard Gary Harris met with Millsap. Turns out Millsap had ties to Denver and grew up a Broncos fan. Marshall walked away from the discussion believing Nuggets "had a good chance."
Less than 24 hours later, the Nuggets pounced, making arguably their most significant free addition since Antonio McDyess. An NBA source confirmed Millsap agreed to a three-year, $90-million deal with the final season a team option. Millsap makes the Nuggets relevant, leaving them in position to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
With guard Jimmy Butler going to Minnesota and Paul George headed to Oklahoma City, the Nuggets needed a bold stroke to keep pace. Connelly didn't hide his frustration the night of the NBA draft, disappointed as trades fizzled out. The Nuggets had their eyes on Millsap since last season. He averaged 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds a year ago. As recently as 2016 he finished fifth in the league in blocks. For the Nuggets to take a step forward they must improve their interior defense.
Millsap, 32, will help and also could accelerate the development of budding 22-year-old star Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets are looking to energize the fan base after missing out on several stars the past two seasons. Millsap provides hope they have turned the corner.
"All love. It's great," Marshall said. "This could make them a playoff team this year."