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Roundtable: Reactions to the Mason Plumlee trade

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The Stiffs staff share their thoughts on the Nurkic - Plumlee swap

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Grade the Jusuf Nurkic + 2017 first round pick (MEM) - Mason Plumlee + 2018 second round pick trade for Denver.

Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): Going to go with a B+ on this one. It’s a bit of a bummer that they gave up one of their 1st round picks, but they were likely to unload it and it’s not going to be a high 1st rounder anyways. Plumlee is the best player in this deal and personally I was so over Nurkic it was causing me to sleep (not really but you know what I mean).

Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): It’s hard not to like this deal for the Nuggets, so I will give it a B+ as well. Getting back Mason Plumlee is a great thing for a Nuggets bench offense that needs the continuity, Trading away a first round pick is difficult, but it certainly shows faith in Juancho Hernangomez and Malik Beasley, and that gives me confidence in the process going on.

Ashley Douglas (@AshleyNBAHoops): Plumlee for Nurk gets an A+ in my book. We’ve been told that Plumlee has an incredible work ethic as well as a great attitude--two key things we were missing from Nurkic. It’s also been said that Plumlee is a great teammate and is fine with sharing the spotlight. It sounds like he fits well into the selfless culture the Nuggets have cultivated.

Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): I’m going to give the trade a C+. I think Plumlee should really help the Nuggets by being an above average backup center, but I'm not a huge fan of the structure of the deal. I would have rather seen the Nuggets take on Festus Ezeli and try to get a future first (like the Cleveland pick Portland owns) in addition to what they got. The Nuggets are in a position where they will most likely match any offer Plumlee accepts as a restricted free agent, and that could be an expensive backup center.

Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): I’ll go with a B. I like getting a passing big for the bench, but he’s about to get expensive and we don’t know how well he can play next to Jokic yet. It also makes finding a defensive (and hopefully shotblocking) 4 an even bigger priority, since neither of our 5s is great in that area. That said, this could set our full-game offense on the right path for the next 4 years, so it’s hard not to be excited to see it in action - and Plumlee is a great character and teammate guy for sure. Team chemistry matters too.

Evan Fiala (@eefiala): B+. I’m pretty ecstatic about this. In the short term the Nuggets get a huge upgrade over Nurkic, have the rights to re-sign him this summer and gave up an unnecessary pick in the process. Plums could be expensive to match, but if he fits in seamlessly (and he very well could) it would be worth it.

Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares): I’ll go with B+ just to be a good sport but the real grade is probably an INC. We won’t know if this deal was a success or not until we see how Jokic and Plumlee play together and until we see what the team re-signs him for in the offseason. The Nuggets need the pair to work together in order to justify paying him the money he’ll demand this summer so chances are they’ll sink or swim based on whether or not they pair together better than Jokic and Nurkic did.

What are you looking forward to most about having Plumlee on the roster? Do you have any concerns?

Mikash: The thing I’m looking most forward to is hopefully the Nuggets will no longer look completely lost as a team when Jokic takes a breather. Plumlee’s skill set is so much more closely aligned to Jokic’s than Nurkic ever was. Biggest concern is obviously the money on his next contract. Plumlee is going to be an RFA, someone could throw crazy money at him leaving the Nuggets in the awkward position of either matching the overpay, or letting the player go knowing you just traded two pieces a few months ago to get him.

Blackburn: I have very few concerns other than the cost of having both Jokic and Plumlee long term. I think that those two will be priority pieces for Denver long term though, so they can spend a bit extra there. The thing it does though is prevent the Nuggets from investing heavily in other needs. The pressure is on for the remaining young players in Denver to continue developing.

Douglas: I’m really excited to possibly see Plumlee and Jokic on the floor together at the same time. Denver tried the “Twin Towers” concept with Nurkic and Jokic earlier this season, and that flopped because of Nurk’s lackadaisical attitude. If nothing else, Plumlee can come off the bench for Jokic and keep momentum and ball movement flowing as Plumlee is also known to be an excellent passer. My one concern is his ability to get aggressive under the rim. I hope Malone’s defensive focus can help Plumlee get a little mean on D.

Lewis: Finally, a big man that can set screens! The passing is icing on the cake, I'm just excited to have a player that won't slip the screen 90 percent of the time.

Gross: Like I said above: I worry that finding the right power forward to play next to both 5s might be tough, and that Denver doesn’t look like it has that guy on the roster. By solidifying its approach at the 5, though, at least Denver knows what it needs for that role.

Fiala: I’m most excited about not having to watch Kenneth Faried and others scramble to play backup center any more. The bench will get a huge lift and the continuity on offense will hopefully kill the dreadful iso-ball when Jokic isn’t on the floor.

Mares: I’m looking forward to having a competent center on the court at all times. The Nuggets have been incredible over the last two months when Jokic is on the court but fall off a cliff once he goes to the bench. With Plumlee in the fold, at worst the Nuggets should be able to tread water with the second unit and at best, Plumlee will unlock the value of Denver’s deep roster. Guys like Wilson Chandler, Will Barton, and Jamal Murray will have a center that can keep the paint open, set screens, and pass from the elbows. My concerns are really all long-term concerns. The short term ramifications are all positive, in my opinion.

What role should Plumlee have on this team?

Mikash: I’d like to see him get around 25 minutes, and I’d like Jokic to get around 33 minutes so that makes Plumlee the backup center for 15 minutes and playing next to Jokic for about 10 minutes. It’s a wait and see deal though with how well Plumlee and Jokic work together on the court, can’t be married to that idea.

Blackburn: Like Zach, I’m hoping for at least 22 minutes per game for Plumlee. Jokic is up above 30 per game during the last six weeks, so 22 per game means that they will share some time on the floor. Plumlee is certainly more flexible than Nurkic was, so playing the two together could work in short spurts. Enes Kanter plays just 21 minutes per game in Oklahoma City, so Plumlee playing around that isn’t egregious.

Douglas: Plumlee’s role can be twofold in my opinion. He can certainly come off the bench for Jokic, but I think that would be a waste of his talent if they were to limit his role to just a backup. I would really like to see Plumlee play alongside Jokic when Denver wants to play the Joker at the 4 to stretch his versatility. Jokic transcends traditional roles, and I’d like to see Denver explore their options with him to understand how to maximize his talent while letting Plumlee role play at the 5.

Lewis: Purely a backup center. When he's on the court, I want the Nuggets to be running downhill. At that pace, he doesn't need to play more than 20-22 minutes a night, and never alongside Jokic.

Gross: I’d like to see Plumlee get some time next to Jokic in the Faried role (hang out in the short corner, get putbacks and oop dunks) while still being able to be secondary pivot-man for ball movement and defending 4s that are a little too athletic for Jokic. Add in 6 minutes of that a game to the 15-18 he should get backing up Jokic and that should be plenty. Hopefully Plumlee thinks so too, or the Nuggets flushed a first rounder.

Fiala: He should be backup center 90% of the time for now, and slowly integrate with the starters to see if he can play the four alongside Jokic. There’s no need to rush him into the startling lineup right now and potentially disrupt the current offense.

Mares: Ideally, Plumlee would come off of the bench and play roughly 15 minutes per game at center. Then he’d play two, 3-minute stretches alongside Jokic, defending power forwards on defense.

What does this move tell you about the Nuggets’ future plans? Do they need to make any other deals before February 23?

Mikash: I think they’ll explore deals for Danilo Gallinari more so than before this trade. There’s a chance they lose him for nothing after the season ends and paying both him and Plumlee on multi-year deals will complicate things financially a couple years down the road when some of the Nuggets rookie deals start expiring. They don’t NEED to make any more deals before the deadline, the roster is good enough to secure the 8 seed as is, but adding a perimeter defender certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Blackburn: In the near future, a Gallinari deal is more likely. Juancho Hernangomez has shown more than enough ability to replace Gallo (though in a reserve role) at a more reasonable cost, and if the Nuggets re-sign Gallo, Hernangomez likely plays less than 15 minutes per game again next year. I don’t want that for him, and if the Nuggets can get temporary help this year and future assets for Gallo, they should make the deal.

Douglas: This move tells me Denver is serious about making the playoffs now. Plumlee is a key piece for Denver’s future as well, and I like that Tim Connelley isn’t out just head hunting for a superstar to sell tickets. I’ve always been a proponent of a long term focus in the NBA, and it appears that Denver is laying the groundwork for a winning team in years to come. This move also says that Denver is interested in finding guys who fit into the team’s culture of selflessness and sharing of the spotlight. However, if this means they trade Gallinari I’m going to be very disappointed.

Lewis: This is the last season Gallinari is with the Nuggets. Plumlee fills more of a need than Gallo does in the future, and will have a comparable salary. And yes, they should make another trade, whether that includes Mudiay or Gallinari.

Gross: Gallinari is most likely to go, but won’t bring back what he could have last year. Jameer might also go, although Denver is talking up his playoff experience as a boon for this young team. I would expect most serious dealing to take place in the lead-up to the draft, though. Denver has some work to do on this roster, but I don’t see a lot more of it happening this week.

Fiala: Plumlee is both a short-term and long-term move and he’s definitely a part of the future. This also means Gallo is likely on his way out the door unless he takes a steep discount, and as much as he says he loves Denver, he won’t. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will be traded in the next week, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Connelly is active.

Mares: I’m speculating here, but I think it says a lot. I think Denver is all-in on this point-center style continuity offense and will build the roster around guys that fit that style. Shooters, cutters, and perimeter defenders. The Jokic era is underway and Plumlee appears to be his elite understudy.

Come up with your best moniker for a Jokic - Plumlee tandem. No repeats.

Mikash: I’m going to leave the low hanging fruit to the others and propose the tandem should be affectionately dubbed Honey Plum.

Blackburn: The Thunder have the ‘Stache bros in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter, so I will go with the Pass Bros. With both players on the floor, the ball should be flying around, inside and outside, until an open three or layup is generated.

Douglas: I’m bad at this. But, let’s go with Twin Towers- Plumic Edition. This only works if Coach Malone plays them together. You win Ryan.

Lewis: Pinky and the Brain. I'll take my prize now.

Gross: Instead of going with last names, I’ll go with first. Nikola + Mason = Nikson/Nixon, and let’s us use phrases like “The Tricky Dicks destroyed Sacramento…” which is writer gold. “Nixon lineup might not be crooks but still stole victory in Houston.” What’s not to like?

Fiala: Magic Plumdrops. Idk.

Mares: Being that we are in the rockies, “Twin Peaks” sounds like a decent nickname for them.