After another season watching eight Western Conference teams compete (okay, well, seven teams) in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, the team had a checklist of tasks they wanted to accomplish during the offseason.
First? Get an All-Star power forward to play alongside Nikola Jokic. With the acquisition of Paul Millsap via free agency, they got to check that off their list.
Second? Add depth in the draft. By trading for Trey Lyles and drafting Tyler Lydon and Monte Morris, they were able to add young talent that they can develop over the next few years.
Third? Bring back Mason Plumlee. With free agency nearly over, with a handful of restricted free agents remaining on the market, the Nuggets have the advantage at the negotiating table in regards to Plumlee’s next contract. They don’t have to worry about that.
Fourth? Sign Gary Harris to a contract extension. They likely won’t put pen to paper until shortly before the season begins, the standard time to announce contract extensions. With the tepid restricted free agency market this summer, perhaps the Nuggets can extend Harris on a team-friendly salary.
The final thing? Consolidate the talent on the roster. With the addition of Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon, and Paul Millsap, there are several players capable of playing power forward on the roster, which leads us to the ever-present Kenneth Faried rumors.
So far, there have been eleven (by my count) trades that could be classified as salary dumps. The players are Cory Joseph, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Josh McRoberts, Avery Bradley, Jamal Crawford, Ricky Rubio, Tim Frazier, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Brook Lopez. There are still two months until the beginning of the season - here are some options for a potential salary dump.
Brooklyn Nets - $3,474,477 in cap space
This scenario isn’t as much of a “pure” salary dump as some of the others I’ll discuss later. The Nets could send Trevor Booker over to the Nuggets in exchange for Kenneth Faried and a heavily protected future second round pick.
The Nets get a local kid gone pro in the former Newark, New Jersey resident, and the Nuggets get a player that is on an expiring contract. The Nets actually have a fairly decent lack of depth at power forward, unless they plan on playing DeMarre Carroll there, and could use Faried for 30 minutes a game as they continue to be bad.
For the Nuggets, they get another high-energy rebounder, but one that they could drop at the end of the bench and not worry about. At least the Nuggets would have someone they could inbounds the ball to with 0.3 seconds on the shot clock.
Atlanta Hawks - $4,632,666 in cap space
This scenario is a little tricky as well, because the Hawks don’t have much wiggle room in regards to movable contracts. The team they currently have projects to be bad for the next two years, so it makes sense for them to try to get rid of veterans on their roster. The most likely contract they’d like to shed is Kent Bazemore, but if the Nuggets tried to trade for him, they’d be adding salary and years to their cap sheet.
There’s a trade I think could take place with the Nuggets and the Hawks, but I’ll write about it further down.
Indiana Pacers - $7,604,912 in cap space
This scenario is one of my favorite salary dumps for Faried. The Pacers are going to be looking to rebuild (or reload, depending on whom you ask), and could use a player like Faried if they want to try to compete for the playoffs. The Pacers could send Al Jefferson in exchange for Kenneth Faried and a heavily protected second round pick.
For the Pacers, they’ve gone young at power forward behind Thaddeus Young with Domantas Sabonis and T.J. Leaf. They have Ike Anigbogu backing up Myles Turner, and Anigbogu was one of the youngest players in the draft. Faried can be a tutor for the young bigs on how to offensive rebound and score from the short corner, while also giving them a more veteran option as a backup center in smaller lineups.
For the Nuggets, I can think of few players that could be better mentors on how to score the basketball efficiently without actually jumping off the ground for Nikola Jokic than Al Jefferson. His pump fake is so convincing, he could get the Statue of Liberty to jump and contest on it. He has made millions scoring from the midrange, and if Jokic could learn some tricks from this hefty veteran, it’d be worth losing a fan favorite.
Dallas Mavericks - $10,185,581 in cap space
This scenario takes the title for “trade that makes me want to go wash my hands immediately.” The Mavericks have a lot of cap space left, and are going to be quite bad this year in a stacked Western Conference. Dallas could send Josh McRoberts and Devin Harris in exchange for Kenneth Faried and an unprotected second round pick.
For the Mavericks ... I’m not really sure why they go this route. They found success last season at times with Dirk Nowitzki playing center with Harrison Barnes at power forward. They acquired Johnathan Motley after the draft, and can afford to play him if he’s healthy - it’s not like they don’t benefit from being bad. They will likely sign Nerlens Noel to a new contract, and he fills the role of rim runner in transition and pick and roll, and is a far superior defender.
For the Nuggets, they’d need to wait until September 7 to complete the trade, and then they should immediately waive both players. That consolidates the roster, but doesn’t bring back any asset to the Nuggets other than cap space in the next offseason to go add another wing. Any trade with Dallas will hurt unless the Nuggets can manage to steal a pick from the Mavericks without sending one over.
Chicago Bulls - $17,301,712 in cap space
This scenario is my favorite of the bunch. The Bulls have so much cap space available, and will likely be terrible for a long time. Their best player is ... Zach LaVine? Dwyane Wade? They’re bad. I mentioned earlier that I’d include the Hawks in a trade, so here it is. The Hawks could send Kent Bazemore to the Bulls, the Bulls could send Robin Lopez to the Nuggets, and the Nuggets could send Kenneth Faried to the Hawks.
For the Hawks, Faried could be the best power forward on their roster the day he shows up. He’d be a great example of an athletic forward for John Collins, and no one honestly wants to play Ersan Ilyasova or Mike Muscala in the year 2017. The Hawks commit to being bad for two more years, and can rebuild through the draft.
For the Bulls, they need the first overall pick. They’re a big city, with a proud NBA history, and they need a star player. What better way to do that then by tanking? They can move Lopez, one of their best players, and start Cristiano Felicio (a sneaky good player) at center. Bazemore can be their new starting small forward, bumping Paul Zipser back to the bench, and Lauri Markkanen can back up Felicio (wow their defense is going to be soooo bad). Michael Porter looks legit though.
For the Nuggets, they need a backup center, and this is a sneaky way to get a good one without committing to Mason Plumlee. Yes, they’d be taking on more salary for the same amount of years, but Lopez is good dang it. At the minimum, they might be able to move him at the trade deadline or during the next offseason for another asset. They’d be a better team if they acquired Lopez - isn’t that what is most important?
There are five potential teams that could trade for Faried. I would love to see the Hawks and Bulls get involved in a trade, followed by the Pacers and then the Nets, in that order. What trade do you like the best? Vote in the poll and comment below.
What salary dump do you like the best?
This poll is closed
Hawks and Bulls