The Denver Nuggets couldn't possibly be serious about trading Kenneth Faried, could they? The first Faried trade rumor popped up on draft night back on June 27th, 2013 from local reporter Brandon Krisztal in the form of a Tweet:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>I heard from a well informed source, the <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Nuggets&src=hash">#Nuggets</a> threw a Faried for Oladipo offer to Orlando, but Rob Hennigan declined</p>— Brandon Krisztal (@BKDenverSports) <a href="https://twitter.com/BKDenverSports/statuses/350425773078876161">June 28, 2013</a></blockquote>
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It was an interesting Tweet and came out of nowhere; Nuggets GM Tim Connelly denied the rumor at the press conference after the draft concluded. That same night the Nuggets traded center Kosta Koufos for power forward Darrell Arthur. The former Grizzlies player is known for his defense, but Arthur had been a backup during his time in Memphis. The moved seemed to give Faried an adequate player behind him and free up Wilson Chandler to focus on small forward. The Faried trade winds died down fast.
On July 7th, 2013 the Nuggets agreed to terms on a three-year, $15 million deal with power forward J.J. Hickson, formerly the center (playing out of position) of the Portland Trail Blazers. Some thought the Hickson signing meant the end of the Timofey Mozgov era in Denver and that the Nuggets would use Hickson to play center. But, on July 27th, 2013 the Nuggets re-signed Mozgov to a three-year, $14 million deal.
Suddenly, there is a crowd of big men in Denver with Arthur, Hickson, Mozgov, JaVale McGee, Anthony Randolph, and of course Faried. New head coach Brian Shaw is emphasizing an inside-out game that looks to require his big men to be able to play in the post and stretch the floor a bit with jump-shots. Playing away from the basket has been Faried's bugaboo, but he also has been working on his jumper. For those who think he'll never be able to shoot - just go back and watch Jason Kidd or a plethora of other NBA guys like former Nugget Al Harrington. You can learn to shoot in the NBA if you practice enough.
It does look more-and-more like Hickson will be the starting forward in Denver. The pairing of Hickson and McGee in the starting lineup has been featured in the preseason, thanks in part to Faried's hamstring injury, and has the coach liking what he's seeing.
"I think they complement each other," said Shaw. "J.J. can stretch the floor a little bit, he can knock down the shot out to the free throw line and a little bit beyond that, which should open up space inside for JaVale to have more room to operate."
If Faried does not start this season, that does not mean that he will be traded, right? Well, with a quality backup power forward in Arthur on board, why not? Well, Arthur is only signed through this season at $3.2 million and has a player option of $3.4 million for the 2014-15 campaign. He may seek contract stability after the season and if he's the odd man out of the rotation among the bigs this year, he may look for a team that can offer more playing time, too.
We're still not sure that Faried won't start this season or that he wouldn't be able to win back a starting job at some point. He doesn't turn 24 years-old until Nov. 19th and has tons of time to continue to grow as a player. Everyone knows that Faried affects games with his rebounding and his desire to play harder than anyone on the court, but he also is an underrated defender, passer, and post player. Even if Faried doesn't improve a ton over the course of the next five or six seasons, he's still an outstanding presence to have on a team looking to get to elite status. If you don't think Faried can remain at his own energetic level until he's, at least 30 years-old ... I don't know what to tell you.
The trade winds of the Nuggets putting out "targeted feelers" on Faried grew louder when Grantland's Zach Lowe penned the following this week in his 32 Bold Predictions for the NBA Season piece:
5.) Denver Will Trade Kenneth Faried
Call this a semi-educated guess. Multiple sources around the league have reported in the last month that Denver has put out targeted feelers on Faried, gauging his value and demanding very good return. The Nuggets, for their part, deny they've put Faried's name out there at all. Faried is entering the third season of his four-year rookie deal, and given his per-game numbers, he figures to get paid on his next contract. If the Nuggets believe Faried has hit his ceiling, and that his game lacks the all-around polish Brian Shaw has said he wants from his big men, it would make sense for Denver to see what it can get. Let's be clear: Faried has a lot of value, and no trade is ever "likely"; there are just too many roadblocks to go that far.
But I'm smelling something here.
Once you get into "sources around the league" territory believe what you read with a grain of salt. We have no idea if Lowe is getting good information or if an NBA GM or player agent of some type is trying to get some rumors started, for various reasons. One thing is for sure, Faried surely has value.
Think of how many teams could use a guy like Faried? The Spurs? You bet. Faried would be fantastic alongside Tim Duncan, cleaning up the glass and creating extra possessions for Tony Parker and company to make another run at the Finals. The Heat? Well, they got a Faried type in Chris Andersen last season and we all saw how Birdman helped propel them to another title. Faried is that same piece and can be a big time spark for any team.
The Nuggets are, without question, looking for a difference making alpha dog. Faried might be able to help them land that type of player in a trade and you couldn't fault the team for making a move with Faried to do so, but the Nuggets will be hard pressed to get equal value back for Faried in a one-for-one deal.
The Manimal will make $1.3 million this season with a team option for $2.2 million next season and a $3.2 million qualifying offer for the 2016-17 season that could make him a restricted free agent. If the Nuggets look to move Faried this season, they won't be getting back an established difference maker for just $1.3 million. The Nuggets would need to either package Faried or gamble on a player on a similar contract that likely will be due for a hefty extension in a year or two, like Kenneth.
Once you start looking around the Nuggets' roster, you also start to question what trading Faried would accomplish. Ty Lawson has the point guard spot locked down. Evan Fournier is the hopeful shooting guard of the near future. Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari will battle for the small forward spot or complement each other once Gallo is back. Hickson is signed to a three year deal at the power forward spot and is just turned 25 years-old in September. And McGee and Mozgov have the center spot locked up. What do the Nuggets need?
So, what's your end game in dealing Faried for a prospect that might not be able to crack your starting rotation? There would be a lot of risk in dealing Faried for future draft picks and he's a known NBA commodity that is certainly on the rise. If the fear of dealing Faried is based mainly on the extension he will receive in a couple seasons, why rush things? Just ask he Oklahoma City Thunder if they'd like James Harden back.
The Nuggets are in the driver's seat as they can take a look at what Faried can do over the next couple seasons before doing anything. Is there a fear that Faried's value could go down in Shaw's system? That could cause the Nuggets to try to sell-high on him now, but who are you going to bring in? And think of what you'll be losing.
We have seen a surplus of point guards come into the league over the past few seasons and wing players are typically easier to acquire than big men, too. Hickson is largely an unproven commodity at this point in his career, so keeping Faried around to battle for the power forward job makes the most sense.
The Nuggets have the hardest playing man in the league in Faried. If they trade him, they'll spend years looking for another guy like Kenneth Faried.
Keep the Manimal in Denver.
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