Nuggets fans seem to collectively express the same sentiment that the Nuggets are trying to (and definitely need to) work out some sort of blockbuster trade with the trade exception acquired in the Iguodala-Foye deal. Coincidently, it has recently been publicized that All Star Forward Lamarcus Aldridge wants out of Portland.
Tim Connelly needs to put together a package that would bring Aldridge to the Mile High City. If Connelly were to offer Kenneth Faried, Andre Miller, Evan Fournier, and use the $9 million trade exception for Aldridge and Dorell Wright this would prove to be beneficial for both sides.
As we all know, the NBA is a business, and for any deal to be made, the salaries must match up. Next year, Faried and Fournier will both make $1.5 million, and Miller is on the books for $5 million, throw in the $9 million trade exception and that adds up to $17 million. In return the Nuggets would acquire Aldridge at $14 million and Wright at $3 million which also adds up to $17 million.
Basketball-wise, the trade would make sense for both teams. The Blazers have been adament that premier young big man would be the center piece of any deal for Aldridge, they have asked for the likes of Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Al Horford and Joakim Noah in deals they have sought out thus far for their disgruntled super star. Faried is definitely a great young talent who would help the Blazers now, and will continue to grow into a top 10 power forward for years to come due to his athleticism, touch around the basket, and his motor that seemingly never stops. Also, Faried is currently at the Team USA basketball camp with Blazers star and Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, so the two have already began to develop a relationship that would benefit the Blazers if a deal were to take place.
The Blazers would also acquire Andre Miller, who has played with the Blazers in the past and would be a good veteran to back up and mentor Damian Lillard. Nuggets fans know that Andre Miller still has the ability to provide offense off the bench, and he would be able to continue to throw lobs up to Kenneth Faried if a deal were to take place. Miller played with the Blazers during the 09-10 and 10-11 seasons, so he is familiar with Blazers starters Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum.
Lastly, the Blazers would get young Frenchmen Evan Fournier who was quite productive once he began to see the court after Danilo Gallinari's injury late in the year. Fournier would provide scoring off the bench and could fight for a starting position down the road.
The Nuggets biggest flaws in recent years have been size in the front court, defense, inability to score in the half court, and the lack of a "superstar." Aldridge addresses each of these needs. At 6'11" Aldridge stands two inches taller than Faried and does a superior job of matching up against Power Forwards and Centers defensively. Aldridge possesses a well developed offensive game. He is strong in the low post and can also knock down mid range jumpers with great consistency. Aldridge's post game would be the missing piece (along with improved 3 point shooting) to improve the Nuggets' half court offense. With All Star game appearances in each of the last two years, it is safe to say that Aldridge would be the bona fide "superstar" that experts have been saying the Nuggets were missing ever since the Anthony trade.
Dorell Wright is widely regarded as one of the better three point shooters in the league and would provide additional depth as well as floor spacing that would prevent teams from being able to double team Aldridge in the post. Wright would fit perfectly into the gap left by Corey Brewer's departure to Minnesota. Wright would actually be an improvement over Brewer according to the numbers, take a look at their career statistics:
Wright: 24.7 MPG, 9.3 PPG, 43.1% FG, 36.7% 3P, 81% FT, 4.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, .9 SPG
Brewer: 24.3 MPG, 9.5 PPG, 41.6% FG, 29.8% 3P, 69.7% FT, 3.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.3 SPG
Both player are 27 years old, and Corey Brewer will be making $5 million this year while Wright is only making $3 million. Wright would be a great addition because of his ability to spread the defense with his 3 point shooting ability and he would play a lot of minutes as Wilson Chandler's back up while Gallinari recovers from reconstructive knee surgery.
This would leave the Nuggets with a starting lineup of (when healthy):
Ty Lawson, Randy Foye, Danilo Gallinari, Lamarcus Aldridge, Javale McGee
With a bench of:
With this roster it would be hard to argue that the Nuggets would not have home court advantage in their first playoff series in the stacked Western Conference, competing with the likes of the Thunder, Spurs, and Warriors for the best record in the conference, closely followed by the Rockets, Grizzlies, and the Clippers.
If the Blazers are hesitant to pull the trigger on such a deal and the pot needs to be sweetened it would be worth it for the Nuggets to offer a first round draft pick to make this deal happen. A haul of Faried, Fournier, Miller and a draft pick would be a lot better for the Blazers than for them to hold on to Aldridge and watch him walk away for nothing after another 2 years of being a middle of the pack team in the Western Conference.
For the Nuggets, this would put them near the top of the Western Conference as well as make them much more prepared for playoff basketball come April. By adding another 3 point shooter and an All Star Power Forward, the Nuggets would not be forced to rely on their Run 'n Gun offense, however, they would still have the ability to run teams out of the Pepsi Center whenever they saw fit. Also, the team defense would improve, something that has to happen if the Nuggets wish to make it past the first round of the playoffs for only the second time since Carmelo Anthony was drafted. By sending Andre Miller to the Blazers, this would fix the log jam that currently exists at Point Guard for the Nuggets, allowing Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson to exclusively share the minutes that Miller would require if he were to stay. Evan Fournier would provide an asset that would make the deal more worth the Blazers while, in addition to providing the appropriate salary figures to make such a deal a reality. It would be extremely heart breaking to see fan favorite "The Manimal" leave, but tough decisions have to be made if the Nuggets ever want to take the next step and truly contend for a Western Conference title.
Who knows if such a deal would ever take place between division rivals, but it is a deal that the Nuggets and Trail Blazers respective front offices would certainly have to think long and hard about because of the benefits the deal could provide to both teams.