Free agency opened with a bang as the calendar flipped from June to July and one of the biggest spenders was the Denver Nuggets, who committed more than $200 million to Nikola Jokic and Will Barton on new contracts. The small-market Nuggets are slated to spend with the big boys next season, a situation that will have to be rectified before the February trade deadline. Denver is more than $22 million over the luxury tax line, with a projected tax bill of more than $52 million, after the Jokic and Barton deals are made official and while their luxury tax bill doesn’t lock in until the end of the 2018-19 regular season, their ability to shed that much salary may quickly disappear between now and then.

Further complicating Denver’s objectives, there are precious few teams around the league with the available cap space to take on their bad contracts, a list that shrunk early in free agency after Dallas came to terms with DeAndre Jordan and Indiana used some of their available money on Doug McDermott. There may not be a more obvious trade partner than the Atlanta Hawks, who one of those teams that still has cap space and has made it known publicly that they’re interested in taking on money to grab extra assets for the future, whether that be young, cost-controlled players or future draft picks.

Rumors and reports indicate that the Nuggets are actively looking for a way to get off salary for Kenneth Faried (one year, $13.8 million left), Mason Plumlee (two years, $27.0 million), Wilson Chandler (one year, $12.8 million), and Darrell Arthur (one year, $7.5 million). Faried, Plumlee, and Arthur are the obvious candidates, but Chandler has been added to the list ever since Barton re-signed and was assured that he would be

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