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Odd Man(imal) out?

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Another season, another round of trade speculation for Kenneth Faried

NBA: New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The sun came up yesterday, just as the day before, and that seems to be the only prerequisite for a fresh round of trade rumors surrounding Denver Nuggets starting forward Kenneth Faried. The Manimal is the first name mentioned in most Nuggets trade rumors these days, with reports of the Raptors, Cavs, Sixers, and Heat all coming up as possible trade destinations for Faried in the last 48 hours.

By his own admission, Faried struggled early in his career when trade speculation bubbled up, and his play on the court suffered for it. By last season, the rumors had been a frequent enough occurrence that he seemed much less affected by them in his play.

As aptly pointed out yesterday by Stiff’s own Ryan Blackburn in his NBA Power Forward Rankings column, Faried has seen his court time limited by coach Michael Malone this past season. The time limits were of dual purpose: To the positive, Faried can expend those mass quantities of energy in shorter minutes, and optimize his energetic play and near-rim impact. To the negative, the minutes restrictions could have been designed to minimize his offensive limitations (Faried is of little threat once he’s more than six feet from the rim) and to minimize exposure of his defensive weaknesses. Denver Stiff’s Adam Mares chronicled Faried’s pick-and-roll defense last New Year, and many of these troubles remain:

ESPN basketball savant Zach Lowe asked Malone about Faried in his podcast earlier this summer. Malone was highly complimentary of his starting power forward:

No small stuff, that. It sounds as if Malone hopes to keep Faried, though he said very similarly positive things about Ty Lawson last preseason. Ultimately, the call to make a deal will be Tim Connelly’s, anyway. Connelly has said positive things about Faried in the past, but has also shown a propensity to make changes when favorable. Coach Malone seems perfectly happy to kick the season off with the Manimal at the four. But Faried’s defensive limitations and inability to stretch the floor both play poorly to Malone’s stated game plan for the Nuggets. Due to his strengths, Kenneth is also one of the more valuable trade chips on the Nuggets roster, and there are a number of teams who might love to add his skillset at the power forward position.

Should Faried be part of a trade, there are a number of players already on the Nuggets squad who might fill in at the four and actually fit better in the planned system, even if they are not Faried’s equal above the rim. He can be such an electrifying player that it can be difficult to say your team might be better off without him.

What say you, Nuggets Nation? Is it time to move one of the Nuggets fan favorites along for the good of the team? Are the Nuggets better with him on the floor? If we were to make a trade, should we be looking for veteran talent to teach the team and keep the bar high, or should Denver drive the youth movement one more step? Until I figure out how to get the fahrfugnuggen surveys back, leave a note below and tell us if you think that the Manimal will be a Denver Nugget through next season. If not, when will a trade be made?