It sure didn't take long for NBA front offices and media members to start churning out buyouts and trade rumors as the Feb. 19th (Thursday!) trade deadline approaches. Our 20-33 Denver Nuggets will be talked about as sellers on the market this season, and with everyone outside of Jusuf Nurkic available (for the right price) - we will be getting rumors galore.
It sure would be nice to be able to sit here and tell everyone what is going to happen, but with the Nuggets we have no idea what the team will do. Where there is smoke, there has been fire since Tim Connelly and Company have been in town. Rumors of a Nuggets and Bulls draft night trade circled the team for weeks, and then it happened. Rumors of a Timofey Mozgov trade to the Cavaliers hovered around the team since David Blatt got to Cleveland, and then it happened.
While you shouldn't pay attention to every trade rumor, it's hard not to when a couple of larger ones actually came true. We'll be doing our best to sort through the craziness that is sure to come and here is my list of reporters to pay attention to, in regards to the Nuggets: Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post, Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Shams Charania of Real GM, Sam Amick of USA Today, and Marc Stein of ESPN. Those are the ones that will get me to pay attention, but there are also local beat writers of other teams that you should pay attention to.
Here is a look at the Nuggets salary sheet, from Basketball Insiders:
Both Dempsey and Zach Lowe put out pieces today that focus on the Nuggets and the trade deadline. Dempsey focused on the Nuggets wanting to get draft assets back for players and Lowe put out an interesting note with an excellent explanation:
The more interesting questions surround Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried. Denver isn't shopping those guys, but Jusuf Nurkic is the only true untouchable on the roster, per several league sources who have dealt with the Nuggets. The sense around the league is that you could land Lawson or Faried with a Godfather offer. They are gettable.
You should click the link for Lowe's explanation of why Denver might be looking to move those guys, on the down low. He even mentions a couple teams, but that's not the part that interests me. Listening to Bill Simmons' recent podcast with Lowe and then Marc Stein, Simmons mentions that he thinks Lawson could be 50/50 to get moved. Stein balked at that a little bit, but it tells you there are conversations going on.
Now, let's sort through the Nuggets players:
Ty Lawson: point guard is the deepest position in the NBA and it might also be the "easiest" position to replace via trade, draft or free agency. Lawson would, unquestionably, bring back the most assets to the Nuggets, and if Denver decided to move him, it would signify a complete and total new direction for the team.
The Nuggets should be able to command a first round pick and a young prospect for Lawson. Lowe mentioned the Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, and Sacramento Kings as candidates (not a report, just his thoughts and many more teams could pop up if the Nuggets were serious about moving Lawson). The Rockets have a picked owed to them from the New Orleans Pelicans from the Omer Asik trade and a young asset that I've always valued in power forward Terrence Jones.
Here is how that Pelicans pick, that Houston owns, breaks down:
- 2015 - Owed first-rounder (top-3 and 20-30 protected through 2018, top-3 and 25-30 protected through 2020, otherwise converts to 2020 and 2021 second-rounders) from New Orleans Pelicans (Omer Asik).
And Jones? Well, he can do a little bit of everything, including extend the floor, and at just 23 years old - he could be a nice piece for the Nuggets.
Would the Rockets be willing to part with two of their biggest non-essential assets for Lawson? That's a good question and would depend on how open GM Daryl Morey thinks his title window is (hint: title windows are ultra slim, ask the Thunder, Nuggets, Magic, and many others).
I'm not sure if the Nuggets should trade Lawson, but he's is the most intriguing piece.
Jameer Nelson: Denver loves what Nelson brings in the locker room. His acquisition could make the gap between Lawson and the next point guard of the future more palpable for Denver, but he also could be a nice backup for a contender in spot minutes. Nelson wouldn't bring back much in a trade, after-all the Nuggets got him for current free agent Nate Robinson, but he could be moved if Denver likes any offer.
Erick Green: He's likely safe, unless the team needs to throw in his salary for a filler. He should be staying put.
Arron Afflalo: He should be gone by Thursday's deadline. The Nuggets may not get a first round pick for him, but I don't expect him to be in a Nuggets uniform come the Bucks game on Feb. 20th. The Magic didn't get a first rounder for Afflalo (well, Evan Fournier was a first round pick...), and the Nuggets may have to take what they can get for AAA or fear losing him this summer for nothing.
Randy Foye: A sharp shooter who hasn't been so sharp or healthy this season. While his outside shot has dropped from 38% to 30%, a team could gamble on him, but don't expect more than a future second round pick. Foye is also a candidate to be bought out if the team feels they want to do right by him and let him look to join a team in the playoff hunt.
Gary Harris: I would say Harris is untouchable, but if the Nuggets become buyers he could be a piece the other team asks for. Harris hasn't found a consistent role for the Nuggets yet, but it would be foolish to deal him in just about any move.
Wilson Chandler: We will be hearing/seeing his name quite a bit. A friendly contract and he has proven to be a valuable Sixth Man for the Nuggets in the past. Chandler could be seen as a game changing player that could sway a playoff game and would be a good fit for a number of teams in the hunt. There has been a lot of smoke around the Clippers and Blazers.
The Clippers owe their 2015 first round pick to the Celtics from the Doc Rivers (yep) trade. And they owe their 2017 first rounder to the Milwaukee Bucks (top 14 protections through 2019) from the Jared Dudley trade. This means the Clippers cannot trade their 2016 pick to Denver or anyone because of the Ted Stepien Rule that prevents teams from trading consecutive first round picks. The Clippers also don't own any young assets the Nuggets would want. So, unless a three team trade occurs, Connelly should steer clear the Clips.
The Blazers however hold a few interesting ideas. They own all their upcoming first round picks and Denver could be inclined to see if they could get them to bite on Nic Batum, 26 years old, who is having a rough season or point guard C.J. McCollum, 23 years old (another prospect I really liked coming out of college). The Blazers are another team that must decide on their title window and how far in they want to go. They could get a few helpful pieces from the Nuggets in any deal, as they need bench help in the form of wings and bigs.
Just to throw it out there: the Blazers could use guys like Chandler, Nelson, Foye, Afflalo, and even Darrell Arthur. This could be a team to watch.
Danilo Gallinari: If I'm the Nuggets, I hold onto Gallo. I love his leadership ability, but his salary ($11.5 million next season) and health could lead the Nuggets to move him. Gallo hasn't found a home in Brian Shaw's system, but that could be more about health versus fit. Shaw does appear to favor Chandler as his starter and Gallo off the bench (for whatever reason), so we'll have to see what gives. Gallo's value is quite interesting. There was talk of the Carmelo Anthony trade becoming the Danilo Gallinari trade before the ACL injury, so would Denver be wise to sell low on Gallo? We will see. It is interesting that Gallo has not been mentioned as a core player in the rumors that swirl around the team.
Alonzo Gee: He should be safe, unless he's a salary filler. He can play a little defense and provides some athleticism on offense, but he could have been had by any team in the league before the season.
Kenneth Faried: At this point the Nuggets would again be selling low on Faried. His new contract kicks in next season, and the shine he had from his Team USA stint seems to be gone. Faried could be amazing on any playoff team and could be a real difference maker if he is allowed to just be The Manimal. It's hard to gauge his value and that should scare you enough to think Denver should hold onto him, for now.
But if the Nuggets go wild, they could move Faried. If a mega deal with a team like the Rockets does happen and Denver were to acquire Terrence Jones, then all bets would be off on Faried. Although I'd be super intrigued by Jones and Nurkic starting with Faried coming off the bench in Denver.
J.J. Hickson: The Nuggets are likely stuck with Hickson. It was curious why they signed him in the first place. Was the team trying to trade Faried? Why sign Hickson when you just traded for Arthur? If the Nuggets signed Hickson to trade him, they will find out that he's not going to net much in return. The book is out on J.J., but if Denver moved him, it would widely be seen as an excellent move.
Darrell Arthur: Many folks don't like the green light Arthur sees on the offensive end. I even joked that he probably has multiple traffic tickets for running red lights. But Arthur makes his money on his jump shot and his defense. A team that put the brakes on his shooting a bit could be getting a valuable defender. Alone he won't command much, maybe a future second rounder, and he also is a candidate for buyout if he's not traded before the deadline.
Jusuf Nurkic: Untouchable, unless the Pelicans GM lost his mind and thought Anthony Davis was Anthony Peeler.
JaVale McGee: The easiest get in the league if you want him. I hate to bag on a guy for injury, but teams would be taking a giant risk by trading for him. He's clearly not 100% yet, can be seen limping and favoring his leg recently, may not pass a physical if the team can find a trade partner (remember Tyson Chandler to the Thunder?), and might get re-injured at any moment. Leg injuries stink. McGee hasn't panned out and moving his salary would really clear the way for the Nuggets to get going in a better direction.
Trades can be somewhat predictable (see Andre Miller to Wizards) and totally unpredictable (see Nene to Wizards right at the deadline for McGee). So, we could see some surprises as teams get desperate and teams that don't leak things fly in under the radar. We haven't seen the Nuggets as sellers much recently, so this could be wild.
That's your guide. If you have questions on trades, leave them in the comments and we can try to answer them the best we can. Happy trade season folks!