Across the SB Nation NBA blogs today you can read all about what teams will be buyers, sellers, and all sorts of other crazy trade themed talk. The Dec. 15th date now allows teams to trade players that were signed as free agents this past off-season. We've seen the Nuggets be active on this front before as they traded Nene (a newly signed extension) for JaVale McGee ... but that was at the trade deadline. Could the Nuggets be in the mix for a deal before that February date?
Are the Denver Nuggets a buyer or seller?
My guess would be that the Nuggets are buyers this season. General Manager Tim Connelly has maintained most the assets the Nuggets had when he took control of the team, said for The Mole and Kosta Koufos. But one could argue that Darrell Arthur has seen his stock rise during his short time with the Nuggets. The team also has a plethora of mid-salary deals that could easily be packaged or swapped in a smaller deal. One thing is for sure, the Nuggets could get in on just about any deal in the NBA.
If buyer, what are the needs?
The Nuggets have a team that is set with role players. Let's pretend for a minute that LeBron James magically appeared in the Denver locker room in powder blue and gold for tonight's game against the Thunder. The team that would be surrounding him would look pretty damn good, right? Well, as everyone in Nuggets Nation knows, the team doesn't have that big time alpha dog and they could be in the market for one if a guy suddenly became available.
...what position are the Nuggets looking to improve?
For the right player, the Nuggets could be in the market for just about anyone in the league. But the most glaring needs for this team are at shooting guard or power forward/center. How could the Nuggets be in the mix for a big man when they already have 63 big guys on the roster? Well, Brian Shaw wants to play that inside-out game and has said a few times now that Kenneth Faried and McGee are not yet comfortable in the post - who knows if they'll ever get there.
The Nuggets off-guard spot has been filled mostly with Randy Foye and Nate Robinson with Evan Fournier sprinkled in from time-to-time (oh and Andre Miller too). If the Nuggets could land an established two-guard or a promising prospect, one would think the team may jump at the opportunity.
...what specific players should your team target?
One of the most coveted assets the Nuggets have is their 2014 first round pick. The team owes a selection to the Orlando Magic and they have their own pick, plus the New York Knicks' selection (Denver keeps the better pick). Teams looking to move serious assets will ask for that pick, but with the Knicks sitting at 7-17, Connelly might want to hang onto it and see if that gamble would pay off with a top-5 selection ... or the pick might end up being a non-lottery pick if the Knicks turn their season around and if the Nuggets continue to play well.
I'll toss these names out there from the Hoopshype rumor mill:
1) Omer Asik, Houston Rockets. It sounds like Asik may be heading to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Jeff Green and/or some combination of guys, but the Nuggets could put in a call to see if there are some big men the Rockets might like. He has been a good defender and rebounder, but with a very limited offensive game and Asik is a dreadful free throw shooter ... and then there are questions surrounding his character.
2) Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons. He's a 6'11" and 250 pound power forward / center that can play with his back to the basket and stretch the floor a little bit. Monroe is just 23 years-old and averages 15 points and 8.9 rebounds. With Andre Drummond emerging and Josh Smith able to slide over to power forward, the Pistons could potentially move the big man if they got the right package back. Joe Dumars would certainly want the Nuggets' draft pick this season, but if Connelly could get a deal done without that pick (maybe send them that 2016 first rounder that Denver can swap with New York) then you might be in business. The Nuggets could build around Monroe, but would have to give up a pretty big haul in order to pry him away ... if he's even available.
3) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats. They say where there's smoke there's fire and MKG has been the subject of trade rumors for months now. He's an athletic wing (6'7" and 232 pounds) and just 20 years old. His upside is that he's a good defender and can attack the rim, but with very limited range ... for now. Consider that he shot just 22% from three point land in his rookie season last year and has yet to make a three this season (0-5). He's also out with a broken left hand (his off hand), but Denver might not have to give up a ton in return to get the youngster.
4) Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers. It sounds like Philly is ready to give up any of these guys in order to keep on their tanking path. Turner is a young shooting guard with limited range (a very poor man's Dwyane Wade perhaps), Young is an interesting wing player that can play some small ball power forward, and Hawes is a center that likes to play out on the perimeter and draws the severe ire of certain Sixers bloggers.
5) Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic. You can't blame then Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri for swinging for the fences with the AAA trade, but he's become a reliable scorer for a young Magic team. AAA is averaging 21.6 points per game on 41% three point shooting and 46.8% shooting from the field to go along with 87% foul shooting in 5.0 attempts per game at 28 years old.
Those are the guys that could be made available to the Nuggets. Asik is a long shot, the Sixers guys are not difference makers, MKG might be worth a gamble, Afflalo might be too rich for Denver's blood (Rob Hennigan will try to get a whole lot for AAA), but Monroe would be a very high quality get.
What do you see playing out this trade season and what names would you like to see the Nuggets get involved with, if any?