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Zach Lowe: Nuggets balked at including Murray for Butler

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Denver is very high on its young guard, but that kept them from adding a star

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler was available to the Denver Nuggets on draft night, but the Nuggets didn’t want to pay a price that included Jamal Murray. That’s what’s been reported by ESPN’s Zach Lowe in his column on the trade that took Butler from the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Most observers wondered how the price for Butler seemed so low and why more teams weren’t involved at that point. From the article:

It's not as if Chicago didn't canvas the league, either. They talked to Phoenix about a package centered around Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 pick, but nothing came close, according to league sources. (Those talks may have been linked at one point to Cleveland's pursuit of Butler, which apparently fizzled Thursday as Dan Gilbert, the Cavs' owner, tried to hire a new president of basketball operations on the freaking day of the draft.)

They poked around with Denver, but the Nuggets drew a line at Jamal Murray, sources say. Those teams had to weigh the possibility of Butler bolting in 2019, which cooled the market a bit, sources say...

There are many ways to view this. Perhaps the Nuggets aren’t completely sold on Butler’s fit next to Jokic. Maybe they don’t like that he will be a free agent in 2 seasons and are reluctant to part with young talent for a two-year rental. It’s possible his timeline doesn’t add up with Denver’s, if they are looking at Golden State and trying to push the roster’s peak out a little longer rather than consolidating to compete now.

Or maybe they just think Murray will be a legit star in the next two years and they’d rather him be a star for Denver. Regardless, it’s these near-misses and reluctance to pay even a deflated asking price that keep Denver on the hunt for another current star to pair next to Jokic instead of sending out season-ticket annoucements about some newly-added All Star.

How the Nuggets solve that issue - and whether they will simply double down on their young roster rather than reaching outside of the organization - is something to watch closely as the start of free agency approaches.

Poll

Would you have traded Jamal Murray, the #13 and another non-Jokic player for Jimmy Butler?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Yes - Butler is one of the best players in the league and Murray is nowhere near that yet
    (329 votes)
  • 78%
    No - I’d rather keep Murray and stay on the current path, hoping for another way to add a star and retain the best young talent
    (1207 votes)
1536 votes total Vote Now