So, the trade deadline has come and gone and Denver has adjusted its roster some. First question is obvious: what grade do you give to Denver’s trade deadline moves?
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): C+. Moving Emmanuel Mudiay for Devin Harris should be extremely helpful for Denver’s bench - for the next 2-ish months. After that, the Nuggets will have to re-address the bench PG situation, and still have Faried and Chandler on the roster. Chandler may choose to opt in next season as well, which would increase the roster money crunch. Denver didn’t take care of any of its roster imbalances, add any real future assets or players, and still needs to find a roster spot for Torrey Craig if they’d like to keep playing him. Fixing the bench PG situation was important short-term, but Denver left itself with the rest of the issues that have been apparent since draft day. We’ll see who they are willing to stretch or cut now that the deadline has passed, but I would have liked to see more.
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): Look, we all know I’m all in on the Mudiay/Harris trade, but to be honest, today was not a good day for Denver. They needed to move Kenneth Faried but we got the same old “worked tirelessly” comments with nothing coming from it. What about Wilson Chandler, who has looked increasingly disinterested and has put forth a lackluster effort this season? Nuggets had four things to accomplish today: 1. Get a vet point guard 2. Shore up your defense on the wing 3. Shed salary 4. Open up a spot for Torrey Craig. I’ll give that getting all four done was going to be tough, so Denver essentially went one out of three. Good average if your playing baseball, but if your getting graded it’s preety poor. I give them a D+ for the day.
Jeremy Poley (@JeremyPoley): C+. The reality is that Denver didn’t need to do much at this trade deadline. Their core is in place for the future and they were in no position to add anything significant to it. Their big free agency is still a year or two off, so they just need to avoid screwing it up until they get there. There was some potential to tidy things up but that wasn’t a necessity. The only thing close to being in the necessary-department was making room to sign Jokic to a max contract this off-season. Moving Mudiay was about the fourth best choice to do that, so I’m unimpressed. Devin Harris’ contract will expire this off-season. And Mudiay’s $4.3 million will be off the books. That’s not a lot of cap relief. But, it should be enough to give management the breathing room they wanted to avoid luxury tax. Mudiay has developed consistently. He’s just never developed in the areas that you really want your point guard to develop in. This past month he’s finally improved to a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. But, that’s hardly a big enough sample size to go forward with any confidence that he’ll be able to sustain it. There was more chance that he loses trade value going into the last guaranteed year of his contract than that he build it. Murray’s big year has made gambling on Mudiay’s future completely unnecessary. Personally, I was curious to see what this 21-year-old could do with one more year of progress.
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): I’m going to go with a C. The move for Devin Harris individually was a solid one, not splashy at all but it gets the job done. Emmanuel Mudiay just hasn’t worked out, and he may never work out. His run of good play over the last ten games is far more likely to be an outlier for the rest of the season than what Denver can expect. Harris’ production over the next 28 games and hopefully the playoffs is easy to gauge: he will be a steady contributor and play within the offensive sets and defensive scheme. This is a good move. A B+ level move. Denver needed to do other things though, and while it takes two to tango, being unable to move Kenneth Faried or Wilson Chandler gets negative marks, as does the inability to open a roster spot for Torrey Craig.
Adam Mares (@Adam_mares): I’ve give them a C. Regardless of where you stand on Emmanuel Mudiay, it was in everyone’s best interest to move on. I hope he flourishes in New York and is able to reset his career. Devin Harris isn’t flashy but he’s a very good fit for the remainder of the year. He’s a high IQ off ball player and can handle point guard duties for the second unit. He has a role, he sticks to it, and he’s consistent. But the Nuggets needed one more deal. THey needed to get off of Kenneth Faried’ contract and they needed to open a roster spot for Torrey Craig. Perhaps a buyout of RIchard Jefferson is on the horizon? Either way, the Nuggets only completed half of their objectives and are once again stuck holding on to Faried’s contract. It’s a lesson in just how damning even small missteps can be in the NBA.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): Everyone is giving them a C? F! F minus! Nah, I’m playing, but I’ll give him two stars out of five. I think there were a lot of things they wanted to accomplish, with their top thing acquiring a backup point guard. They were able to do that, and he’ll help a lot. I’m excited to see him and Plumlee play together, that should be a nice combo. It would have been nice to see them move Chandler and Faried, but I think Faried is going to be a Nugget for life - that contract is impossible to move.
What’s your favorite memory of Emmanuel Mudiay’s time with the Nuggets?
Gross: Gotta be the Celtics game for me, November of his second year with the team. He put up 30 points (and 7 turnovers) in a blowout win in Boston, and I thought maybe his summer had brought some changes to his shot and his trajectory. It just didn’t happen that way here. His first official game as a Nugget, coming up one assist shy of a triple-double, let all of us dream on him for a good long time too.
Mikash: His half court buzzer beater against the Philadelphia 76ers in his rookie season. If you remember, the Sixers were god awful, full out tank mode and yet they seemed to have a win locked away in the final moments. After a bit of a scramble, Mudiay pulled up nearly from half court and drained it for the win while Chris Marlowe screamed “He got it! He got it!”
Poley: Mudiay shooting almost 50% from the 3-point line to start this season was putting a smile on my face. And his rookie season was so full of ups and downs - it was hard not to imagine what he could potentially become.
Blackburn: The game winner against Philadelphia comes to mind, but I’m going to go with his clutch play against Damian Lillard during his rookie season. He blocked Lillard twice in crunch time, scored over Lillard, and hit free throws to ice the game. That was quite a performance and showed just what Mudiay could be in this league.
Mares: For me it was his career debut. Stiff’s Night Out was as loud and rowdy as I’d ever seen and Mudiay showed so many signs of being something special.
Lewis: That Celtics game was incredible. He was in a groove, and everything was falling. As is his custom, he only scored three points the remainder of the game. Classic Mudiay.
Is Devin Harris the right backup point guard for this team?
Gross: A mossy rock that could throw an entry pass into the paint without turning it over and can run some offensive principles while hitting a few shots would be fine. In that sense, Devin Harris is our mossy rock. Devin is a little long in the tooth but he can shoot decently, even out to three, and can bring the ball up court while allowing someone like Will Barton to dictate the offense from the shooting guard position. He’s been around and seen it all, and that’s essentially what Denver was looking for. They needed someone to help keep the bench on track while Jokic is off the floor.
Mikash: Well, I’ve been shouting this trade from the rooftops since November so yeah, suffice to say I think Devin Harris is the right guy. He’s a heady veteran with size for the position who can score and can run the offense. With any luck, Denver won’t look like a complete mess when their reserve unit is on the floor anymore.
Poley: No. He has averaged under 20 minutes in this league for over 3 seasons, and done very little with those minutes. Throughout that time he’s kept a feeble 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and a sub-40% FG. His three-point shot is almost at the point that you consider having him stop taking it. Visually, though, his control and style look like a good fit for the Nuggets. I’m optimistic that we’ll see a small bump in his efficiency as he plays in an environment more suitable for him. He’s well-liked by his teammates - after the trade was announced at practice in Dallas today, it was reportedly full of choked-up players. He played with Millsap in Utah for over a year. Strangely enough, they were fellow teammates in Atlanta for a day - Harris being shipped out the day after they signed Millsap. At the end of the day, he should be able to at least carry his own weight and get along with the team as they ramp up for the playoffs.
Blackburn: He’s a correct form of good point guard, but not the only form. The Nuggets got him for cheap, and that’s a big deal. He won’t kill them with mistakes, and he will play a steady 15 to 20 minutes as a nice complement to Murray’s scoring explosiveness. He’s not a long term solution, but he’s the prototype Denver needs right now.
Mares: I’m not sure if he’s Mr. Right but he’s Mr. Right Now. Harris is a really good veteran player and will be consistent for the Nuggets. Denver’s starters are their ticket to the playoffs, they just need their bench units to be good enough to hold onto 10-point first-half leads. Harris will do that and slide in nicely alongside Jokic, Millsap, and the rest of the starters in mixed bench-starter combinations.
Lewis: If you’re starving and the only restaurant on that Kansas I-70 exit is a Subway, Subway is the meal of choice. He’s going to help them make the playoffs, and could return on a cheap contract. At least he’s not going to make the same mistakes as frequently as Mudiay did.
Not moving either Wilson Chandler or Kenneth Faried means no open roster spot for Torrey Craig - how bad a thing is that?
Gross: Well it ain’t great. The Nuggets need to find him a spot, and could do so by cutting Richard Jefferson or stretching another vet like Faried or Chandler. Their opportunities are not over, but Craig is butting up against his 45-day mark and may have to go down to the G League while Denver finishes sorting this out.
Mikash: Not good at all. Denver holds onto their expensive players, one of which doesn’t even play, and now loses a contributor in their rotation or just eats a contract. It’s not my money so whatever, sucks for Torrey though if they send him back down, he deserves to play.
Poley: Torrey Craig has earned a role on this team. The two-way contracts are a little bit murky at this point so it’s hard to say how much potential he has of coming back for any time during the playoffs. The Nuggets missed out on an opportunity to find a spot for Craig today. It’s frustrating. But again, not crucial at this time.
Blackburn: Pretty bad. Not going to lie, this is a bad look. Denver doesn’t have a ton of defensive minded players, and Craig has given the Nuggets extra chances to score by stopping his man from scoring and rebounding the heck out of the ball. They will miss that if they don’t find a place for him.
Mares: It’s disappointing. Every team needs a Torrey Craig. I don’t think he’s the most talented guy in the world but he brought his hard hat every night and stayed in his lane. There really isn’t anyone else on the roster that can do what he did so I’m not sure how Denver will replace him. Nonetheless, Denver should still have enough firepower to make the playoffs.
Lewis: It’s a bad enough thing that I only gave them two stars out of five for the trade deadline. It’s pretty hilarious to me that the Nuggets have been trying to trade Faried for the last two seasons, and seem resigned to the reality that he’s going nowhere. I’m glad they didn’t attach a first round pick to dump him, because that pick, even if it’s in the final 10 spots, is worth more than what they’d save on Faried. Chandler needed to go too, he’s fallen off a cliff and hasn’t adapted to the offense like he could and should. I wouldn’t be surprised if they waived someone, like Jefferson for example, because they need Craig around. No one else, not even Jamal Murray, plays with as much fire as Craig does. He needs to stay.