According to league sources: #Nuggets will trade F Joffrey Lauvergne to Oklahoma City for 2 second round picks— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) August 30, 2016
Joffrey being traded is unexpected. There had been some question as to whether or not he would make the team about a month ago but when Denver fully guaranteed his contract the assumption was Joffrey would be with the team to at least start the 2016-2017 season, now it appears he'll be with a division rival. At the end of the day, this is a trade for low level picks in exchange for the 15th man on a roster, so not much to get excited about. Still, it brings up some interesting topics.
First and foremost, the Nuggets are now a Jusuf Nurkic or Nikola Jokic injury away from being incredibly thin at center. While Lauvergne wasn't an anchor at the five by any means, he had the requisite size to serve as the emergency center and even started a few games at that spot early last season. With him gone, there is really no one to fill that role. Rookie Juancho Hernangomez is just 6'9", leaving him in a group with Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur as woefully undersized options. If you're going just off height, Danilo Gallinari now stands as the third tallest player on the roster, but his ability to play center is highly questionable (actually, it's not questionable, Gallo can't play center).
The second interesting part of this deal is the compensation. Denver used just a second round pick on Lauvergne in 2013 and now will get two in return for him. This is noteworthy in Denver because general manager Tim Connelly has shown a knack for finding European talent late in the draft and the Nuggets were without second round picks in 2017 and 2018 so this helps re-stock that cupboard. However, there are no guarantees that any player the Nuggets could draft in the second round will ever become as good as Joffrey who, despite his deficiencies, is still an NBA level player even if it's only end of the bench NBA level. In the end the value shakes out pretty fair on both sides of this deal.
With the trade, the Nuggets now re-open the roster spot that was filled when they guaranteed Lauvergne's contract. Last season holdovers Axel Toupane and Jakarr Sampson, both of whom are on non-guaranteed contracts, would appear to be the leaders in the competition for the final roster spot, but recently signed Nate Wolters and DJ Kennedy should also be in the running. Again though, none of those four players can play the five so there could still be something in the works here. The Nuggets have been subject of some pretty lousy rumors involving the Los Angeles Lakers young big man Julius Randle (again though, not a center) and also were rumored to be actively pursuing big men in the trade market around Draft time. Perhaps trading Lauvergne is a pre-cursor to a bigger move to come.
Joffrey's time in Denver was short, and was spent entirely in a reserve role but by all accounts he was a good guy who worked hard and was willing to do whatever the team asked from him. With the addition of Hernangomez though Joffrey's future at the power forward spot seemed to evaporate and his talent level made it hard to justify him as a guy the Nuggets could let finish out his contract on the bench instead of seeking some value in return. With a pair of second round picks in tow, Connelly has solved the issue of letting Joffrey walk for nothing. Now he's just got to figure out how to shore up the depth at the five.
Best of luck in OKC King Joffrey, we appreciate your time and effort here in Denver.