Good friend and great basketball mind Paul Klee of the Colorado Springs Gazette wants the Nuggets to chase Jabari Parker. Klee recognizes the impossible task in his latest column, but a swing for the fences deal is increasingly tantalizing among Nuggets Nation.
A snippet from Klee's column (check out the column in its entirety, as there are some good quotes from Tim Connelly):
Dial up the Cavaliers, Bucks and Sixers. Learn what it will take to swoop in and score a top-three pick. Send all of it over, express-mail style. Draft Parker. Build around him.
What do you think, Mr. GM?
"Anything is possible," Connelly said. "I don't think it's likely they would give up that spot. In this draft, with these players, it would take a lot."
Parker is worth a lot. Superstars lead three of the four teams still kickin' in the NBA playoffs. The Pacers got there by being fortunate to play in the Eastern Conference.
The idea isn't a dumb one, Connelly said. But here's the issue: the Cavs, Bucks or Sixers would risk alienating their fanbases by passing on the chance to draft Parker, Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid. It takes two to Tango, and to trade.
Early on this past season, I had a conversation with a few folks in the Pepsi Center practice gym - awaiting the Nuggets to finish up - and the talk centered on the pressure of the team that was selecting no. 1 overall. How high would that pressure be to take Andrew Wiggins with that top pick? Could a general manager out there really take Joel Embiid with the first selection and go on to watch Wiggins become the next great NBA player? That GM would surely be risking his job, in a major way (shout out to E-40 circa 1995). Well, I think the same can be said for the Cavaliers, Bucks, and 76ers ... heck, toss in the Magic, Jazz, and Celtics too. This is a five or six player draft and GMs that would be willing to trade a top 6 pick would be putting their jobs on the line.
Let's pretend this is a "Nuggets perfect world". A GM makes a trade with Denver for their top pick, their team struggles, the Nuggets get a star that leads them to the Western Conference Finals in 2016-17, and that GM is out on the street.
On the flip side, one would think that these GMs would hold onto their valuable picks, as Klee points out, at the risk of "alienating their fanbases". Can you imagine how upset you would be if the Nuggets traded out of the top 3 of this draft?
Let's take a closer look at what might be on the Cavs, Bucks, and Sixers minds if the Nuggets came calling with an "all in" offer ...
Cavaliers: They have a 22 year old Kyrie Irving, a very talented point guard that is due a big contract extension after the 2015-16 season - a season in which he's set to make $9.1 million on a qualifying offer. If you're the Cavs, don't you take a rookie with the pick, keep him on that nice rookie scale for years, and make a run at LeBron James? No matter if you get LeBron or not, don't you owe it to your fans to try? What would they take from the Nuggets? Ty Lawson doesn't have a spot on that team with Kyrie there - although I guess you could pair the two in the backcourt like the Suns do with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, but is that better than drafting a rookie or trying to deal that pick, plus assets, for Kevin Love, and then making a run at LeBron? Nope.
Bucks: Believe it or not, the Bucks tried to make a playoff run this past off-season with their acquisitions of O.J. Mayo (or as I call him: Orange Juice Mayonnaise), Carlos Delfino, Zaza Pachulia, and Caron Butler to go along with what they thought would be another big season from Larry Sanders. The moves netted the team an NBA worst 15-67 record. With new ownership in place, after Herb Kohl sold the team to Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, one would have to think that patience is being preached in Milwaukee. But, as we have found out in Golden State (acquiring Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala) and Sacramento (acquiring Rudy Gay), new owners sometimes want good teams (or what they think will be good teams) right away. With Milwaukee having promising youngster Giannis Antetokounmpo on the roster, pairing him with a high character guy like Parker or Embiid should be what the Bucks want to do. Maybe you can pry that pick loose ... maybe.
76ers: Sam Hinkie gutted that team this past season in hopes of putting in place a long-term plan. Could you really talk the Sixers into forgoing that plan and taking a bunch of Nuggets players and picks? That would be the equivalent of Hinkie walking out to center court before tipoff and flipping the bird to Philly fans while spinning in a circle. I'm not sayig the Nuggets have horrific assets, it's just that the two teams were in somewhat similar spots recently and the Sixers chose to tear it down - why would they try to build back up so fast again? And with the Sixers having Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams on the roster (a point guard that could make passing on Dante Exum a reality), they won't likely pass on Parker, if he falls to the third spot (or Wiggins or Embiid).
I like Klee's idea of swinging for the fences for Jabari Parker, but getting there would be nothing short of amazing by Tim Connelly and Co.