As we know, there was no luck shown to the Nuggets on Lottery Night, and every bit of luck the league could offer to the Cavs after Lebron decided to bolt (WTF?). If we had moved into the top three, drafting one of Wiggins, Parker, or Embiid (and perhaps Exum) would have put a jumpstart on the Nuggets' reload. Notice I use the word RELOAD, and not REBUILD, because this team has multiple pieces to push itself into the playoffs already. We just need a way to move past that first round barrier, meaning something in our supporting cast around Lawson or perhaps *gasp* Lawson himself needs to change. The lottery is fickle, as is the league that instated it, but here are some scenarios we can think about to pass the time until the draft on June 26th.
Scenario 1: Trade up with Los Angeles and draft BPA
The trade that I am proposing is as follows:
Los Angeles gives: Steve Nash, Marshon Brooks and #7
Both Nash and Brooks have expiring contracts, Nash for just over $9 mil, and Brooks for $1.2 mil. Nash has stated that he may retire if he were to play for a team he didn't want to suit up for. While that sounds bad initially, it would provide the Nuggets with an extra $9.3 mil in cap space to play around with this offseason. Brooks is a scorer who can replace what Fournier would provide off the bench in limited doses. The real prize however, is jumping over Sacramento, Charlotte and Philly (the three teams directly in front of us) so that we have the pick of the best prospect available. This could be Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, or even Dante Exum if teams aren't sold on him as an NBA player. Let's say for a second that Denver drafts what looks to be the lowest prospect of the four in Marcus Smart. Our depth chart looks like this:
Lawson / Steve Nash (if he doesn't retire) / (Aaron Brooks)
Smart / Foye / Marshon Brooks
Gallo / Chandler/ Q
Faried / Arthur / Air Wolf / Randolph
McGee / Mozgov
This is a solid lineup mixed with youth, veteran leadership, athleticism, distribution, shooting, rebounding, defense and overall talent. What if Steve Nash doesn't stay though? What if we can't resign Aaron Brooks? What if our two frontcourt guys bolt or we don't retain them? The three biggest needs will be veteran presence, distribution outside of Lawson (if Nash were to retire), and frontcourt depth. My next scenario would solve the distribution problem.
Scenario 2: Trade from the Second Round into the First Round and select a top PG prospect
Finding a target to trade with is difficult at this point in the process, but teams like Utah, Charlotte, and Phoenix have multiple first round picks, so they may be apt to trade with a team like Denver who can provide a couple second rounders and a player or two. Let's say that player is Quincy Miller. He still has potential to be a decent backup, and the opportunity to hit on an extra second rounder or two could make one of the aforementioned teams bite.
The four prospects we should be looking hard at are Tyler Ennis (likely gone but you never know), Shabazz Napier, Elfrid Payton, and our own Spencer Dinwiddie. All can be good distributors at the next level, yet Ennis is known for his clutch play, Napier his title run and taste of success, Payton his athleticism and defense, and Dinwiddie his all around offensive game and size. I like all four prospects and have a hard time choosing one. I want to get a little more defensive in the backcourt however, so Elfrid Payton is the man at the end of round one. His speed is similar to Lawson's, while his defense would be a nice change of pace as an immediate backup. He could come in for short spurts to spell Lawson or play instead of Lawson for his defense (like Steph Curry would do in the GSW playoff series). Now the depth chart looks like this if Steve Nash retires:
Lawson / Payton
Smart / Foye / Marshon Brooks
Gallo / Chandler
Faried / Arthur / Randolph
McGee / Mozgov
Notice the only italicized player from the previous list that is included here is Darrell Arthur. This is because I don't believe that any of the other players (Airwolf, Aaron Brooks) will be back. We still have three SGs and PFs and go two deep at every position. We have the playmaking we need in Lawson, Elfrid Payton, Marcus Smart and Gallo. Foye did okay and could be another playmaker if need be, but his role this year shooting be restricted to running off screens and hitting catch and shoot jumpers. The other two items, veteran presence and frontcourt depth, can be done through signing a serviceable backup bigman. Guys like Glen Davis and Andray Blatche were names that went to contenders. We could make a similar deal if need be.
The one factor that I haven't brought up is the addition of the European guys (Erick Green and King Joffrey). I cannot say if one or both will be brought over. I think that if we can find a new home for Anthony Randolph, then bringing Joffrey over should be a no brainer. He can sit the bench, play a few minutes here and there and learn the NBA game. If he does well, he may have an expanded role as we decide to go big more often than before with 5 solid big men. I would consider bringing Erick Green over as well, but that seems less likely for this season and more for 2015-16.
Anyways, I love talking basketball management more than any sport out there for some reason just because it's easier to get a better team in the NFL due to the mass of players overall, and the MLB because there is no salary cap and it's what the owner can or cannot pay. Please leave your thoughts below. I usually specilize in larger proposals but thought I'd keep it small for the sake of my sanity and that it's likely the moves are on the smaller side as well. Anyway, can't wait til June 26 when this puzzle can be seen with more clarity.