Collin Gillespie entered the season for the Denver Nuggets as a second year rookie. After breaking his leg during the Summer of 2022, Gillespie missed all of the 2022-2023 season and thus was still considered a rookie when the 2023-2024 season began. Despite a year in the facility, Collin was unable to translate that into a full time role with the squad and entered the season on a two-way contract. Generally speaking, a two-way player is not anticipated to be a regular rotation player and that was true for Gillespie. However, injuries ended up creating an opportunity for Collin during stints of the year and perhaps the most surprising development of those injuries was that it was Gillespie, and not others, who ended up getting the call to contribute to the team.

2023-2024 Season stats

3.6 0.9 1.1 0.5 46.40% 39.50% 0 -2.7


Season Story

As I said, Gillespie’s season was a bit of a surprise. We won’t be doing reviews for Jay Huff or Braxton Key because they were also two-way players and neither received any significant playing time. One probably would have expected the story to be the same for Gillespie, particularly considering the Nuggets already had Jamal Murray as the clear starter for the point guard position and brought back veteran Reggie Jackson as the front runner for the backup PG role. Additionally, the Nuggets spent a high second round pick on Jalen Pickett and gave him a guaranteed contract. Heading into camp it appeared that Gillespie was fourth on the depth chart and can only play one position. Something drastic would have to happen in order for him to see playing time.

Point guard minutes became available early in the season when Murray tweaked a hamstring and had to miss extended time. This thrust Jackson into the starting role and left an opening in the backup role. Now, one probably would assume that given the investment the Nuggets were making in Pickett he’d be the guy to get the opportunity but that ultimately was not Michael Malone’s plan. It was Gillespie who got the first crack at playing actual rotation minutes. He took on a four game stretch in November where he averaged about sixteen minutes a game. The results were mixed. Colin seemed to struggle running the team and looked tentative. By the fourth game, a November 12th loss to Houston, he started to look more comfortable and played twenty minutes but ultimately Malone decided to change course, opting first for Pickett in the backup PG role before finally settling on just not playing a backup PG at all.

Gillespie spent the majority of the remainder of the season playing in the G-League where he excelled and demonstrated the stark talent difference between the NBA and its developmental league. That would translate into one more opportunity after Murray rolled an ankle late in the season. Once again Collin got the call over Pickett and did look much more comfortable from the jump. His first game back in the backup PG role was on March 23rd where he scored in double digits for the first game his career and followed it up with his best performance of the season on March 25th when he took command of the backup unit and dished out seven assists. However Malone once again reverted back to foregoing a traditional backup PG and Murray would return shortly thereafter. As a two-way player Gillespie was not eligible for the playoffs so there were no more opportunities to play real minutes this season. In the midst of all of this was also a flash in the pan game on February 23rd against the Portland Trail Blazers. Once again Murray was out and Collin put in his best performance thus far of his career, scoring eighteen points and dishing out four assists along the way.

’24/’25 outlook with the Nuggets

Gillespie is now a free agent however only a restricted one which means the Nuggets will have the opportunity to match any offer he gets in free agency so long as Denver extends a qualifying offer to Gillespie by June 29th. That QO is roughly $2.1 million. Obviously with only a year under his belt and essentially only seven games of actual playing time Collin will not be drawing a ton of interest in the market. However, look no further than last Summer when Jack White, a two way player for Denver during the ’22/’23 season, signed a fully guaranteed contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency as an example of how these guys can and do end up moving on in free agency. The reason being is it’s a numbers game for Denver.

Gillespie is not likely to sign for anything other than the minimum so the Nuggets can convert him to a fully guaranteed contract player even with their cap conundrums, but it becomes more of a question of roster space. An NBA team can only have fifteen guaranteed contracts on their roster (plus three two-way contracts like Gillespie was on last season). Denver currently has ten players under contract for next season. They have three more who could have guaranteed contracts for next season depending on whether those players’ contract options are exercised. They also have a first round draft pick this Summer and if they elect to keep that pick and bring them in the fold this upcoming season the NBA requires they give that player a fully guaranteed contract as well. So, potentially before the free agency market even opens in July the Nuggets could have only a single guaranteed roster spot available. I’m sure Gillespie will be considered for that spot but there’s nothing to indicate one should expect him getting that spot is a formality. Far from it.

There is also the potential that Collin returns to the Nuggets or finds a spot on another roster as a two-way player again and that may feel like the most likely scenario. Given Gillespie is only going into his third year in the league he still has two more years of eligibility as a two-way player and given his inability to lock in a rotation role when injuries presented opportunities, a two-way contract may be his best bet to stay in the league and keep his NBA dream alive. The Nuggets certainly could bring Collin back in that capacity. However, they have not carried a player on a two-way contract for three straight seasons since the two-way contract was first introduced in 2017. Considering all of those factors, the likelihood of Gillespie being back in Denver next season seems 50/50 at best.