After their run to the Western Conference semi-finals, the Denver Nuggets are fully focused on winning the NBA title in 2019-20, says star guard Jamal Murray.
Alongside All-Star center Nikola Jokic, Murray helped the Nuggets to the No 2 seed in the West with a regular season record of 54-28. They overcame the San Antonio Spurs in the opening round of the playoffs but were then eliminated by the Portland Trail Blazers in a dramatic seven-game series.
While many teams have overhauled their rosters over the free agency period, the Nuggets have focused on securing the futures of the players responsible for their 2018-19 success. The team exercised their option to retain veteran forward Paul Millsap and re-signed the 22-year-old Murray, who averaged 18.2 points per game in the regular season, to a five-year, $170m extension.
Speaking to Sky in Italy at a 3-on-3 basketball event in Milan, Murray was asked if Denver are aiming for a championship in the 2019-20 season.
"Sure. I think every team should be thinking about winning the title," he said. "We're going to have a lot of fun in Denver next year. 'Joker' (Nikola Jokic) is going to be back, Gary [Harris] is going to come back. We have all these guys ready to run it back and it's going to be fun to try and get further [in the playoffs] than we did last year. We're going to have more chemistry. I'm excited.
"I've been one of the 'go-to' guys. I'm confident in my game. The team are confident in me as well."
While the Nuggets have decided to 'run back' their 2018-19 squad next season, the free agency period saw an unprecedented level of player movement punctuated by Kawhi Leonard's decision to leave the Toronto Raptors for the Los Angeles Clippers and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant teaming up with the Brooklyn Nets.
None of that will affect the Nuggets' approach to next season, according to Murray.
"There are a lot of different faces in new places, Jimmy Butler going to Miami, D'Angelo Russell to the Warriors, but we've got to focus on ourselves," he said.
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"Teams are going to trade players no matter what but, as a player, as long as you focus on what you've got to do, you'll have success. That's what we did last year and we'll try to repeat that next year too."
Born in Ontario, Canada, Murray has taken inspiration from the Toronto Raptors' triumph in the NBA Finals.
"The Raptors' success has been amazing, not just for the city of Toronto, but for the country as a whole," he said. "It took them 25 years to win a championship and they finally got it. That's what I'm trying to bring to Denver now.
"I grew up watching the Raptors as a fan - I was a big Vince Carter and Chris Bosh fan - so for them to win a championship is pretty amazing."