I stumbled across this article last night by Travis Heath over at HOOPSWORLD that was discussing the possibility of the Nuggets acquiring not only Ron Artest, but also Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry.
This article discusses the potential for the Nuggets to acquire Artest for Nene and Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry for Najera, J.R. Smith, Von Wafer and a draft pick.
Now that would be quite a haul.
I emailed Travis a few questions and he was gracious enough to answer.
After the jump you can see his answers to my questions as well as some more trade rumor insight.
Jeremy: Teams like Phoenix and Dallas are mortgaging their futures to try to win this season. At what point should a team like Denver decide that they will take their chances this year with what they have, knowing the likelihood of winning the title are slim, and retain their younger players in order to be competitive next season and beyond?
Travis: I think Denver should think long and hard about giving up young talent and mortgaging their future as you can read here:
The thing about the West is that there is not one dominant team at the top like there has been most other years. Because of that, the Nugs may be willing to roll the dice with a big trade or two.
At this point it looks like a combo of Miller and Lowry or Artest and Delonte West appear to be most likely:
Jeremy: With his current condition (and contract) is Nene even tradeable?
Travis: Nene has some trade value, but at this point the chances he's going to be moved before Thursday's deadline appear to be slim. As a result, don't expect the Nugs to get both Miller and Artest because in order to do so, the team would likely have to get rid of Nene's salary.
Jeremy: How would a team with Carmelo Anthony, Ron Artest and Mike Miller, all natural small forwards, be able to play together? If they completed these proposed deals would they have too much talent?
Travis: If the Nugs did get both Miller and Artest, they would simply start Artest and bring Miller off the bench as Miller has no problem being a sixth man.
Jeremy: Allen Iverson has the ability to opt out of his contract after the season. If the Nuggets could acquire Artest, Miller and Lowry, would that provide enough talent on the roster to let AI walk?
Travis: Finally, as for whether or not multiple trades would be enough for the Nugs to let A.I. walk... well, the Nugs simply don't want to do that at this juncture. They want to keep A.I. That could change pending the outcome of this season, but look for the Nugs to try and keep him.
I believe Travis is right on in his analysis. Having watched the Nuggets I do not believe they are a championship caliber team, but as tightly packed as the West is this season, are they really that far away? As he stated, there is no dominant team. I have written that the Nuggets have proven they are going after a title this season with their acquisition of AI. If that is indeed the case, why would they not make one or two deals at the deadline?
The potential for acquiring Artest and Mike Miller is intriguing, but the chances of Sacramento taking Nene are very slim.
Part of the reason I was interested in Miller ahead of Artest is his willingness to come off the bench, which Travis notes.
Ultimately, looking ahead I agree there is no way the Nuggets let AI walk. I have preached the importance of getting all you can for your assets (even Bobby Jones whose expiring contract might have come in handy in trade negotiations don't you think?) and letting AI just walk out the door if he opts out, no matter how much talent the Nuggets have acquired between now and then, would be a complete waste.
For more on the Artest negotiations here is a blurb from the Sacramento Bee (yes, that’s a newspaper) updating the state of negotiations between the Nuggets and Kings:
Ron Artest, meanwhile, isn't auditioning as much as he's waiting. With Thursday's trade deadline nearing, the small forward is still widely believed to be on his way out.
All indications continue to point to Denver as his most likely destination, with the Kings and Nuggets at a stalemate of sorts in regard to trade talks and the likelihood high that any trade won't happen until at least Wednesday.
The holdup remains third-year small forward Linas Kleiza, a player the Nuggets continue to attempt to hold on to in any deal for Artest. There remains a disagreement within the Nuggets' higher-ups whether Kleiza is valuable enough to lose for Artest, with coach George Karl believed to be reluctant to lose him and vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien motivated to acquire Artest.
Karl's job security could certainly be in question if the Nuggets don't make the playoffs, and his team is currently in ninth place in the Western Conference despite its 32-20 record. There was pressure applied by one of their own players as well, as Carmelo Anthony openly campaigned for Artest while at the All-Star festivities in New Orleans.
A source close to the Nuggets, however, said the team is considering "a couple" of other potential trades that could steer their interest from Artest. As for Artest himself, he opted to stay relatively quiet as his future remained in doubt.
I believe the Nuggets have all the leverage with the Kings. The Kings are faced with losing Artest for nothing after the season if he opts out of the last season of his contract. The Nuggets are in a great position to play the heavy and make the Kings accept a draft pick instead of Kleiza.
If the Nuggets know they can get a deal done for Mike Miller, that would give them even more leverage to low ball the Kings.
I am starting to believe the Nuggets will be able to wrest Delonte West from Seattle for Von Wafer and perhaps a couple of second round draft picks. West does not seem to be in Seattle’s long term plans and his contract expires after this season so Seattle might as well try to get something for him.
Look for the next two days to be full of exciting rumors and if the Nuggets roster looks the same on Friday as it does today, I would be very surprised.
Many thanks again to Travis Heath for taking the time to answer a few questions and for keeping tabs on what the Nuggets are thinking as we approach the trade deadline.
Also, thanks to Sactown Royalty for the Sac Bee article quoted above.
One more thing...user ExhibitA has postd a Diary on the benefits of Ron Artest versus Mike Miller that everyone should check out.