At the trade deadline, some teams will be buying, and some teams will be selling. The Nuggets should be buying, and these players should be on their shopping list.
The Denver Nuggets are second in the Western Conference, and their roster has begun hitting its stride as of late. They have a number of athletic wings that would be key rotation pieces or starters. Their starting lineup has played 100 more minutes than any other 5-man combination in the NBA, and they have a net rating of +12.6 which is the 12th-best mark among lineups that have played at least 100 minutes together.
Until recently, their bench had been somewhat of a weight as they were trying to get their feet under them, but they have come alive. With the number of good young pieces that they have, especially with rookie Michael Porter Jr.’s recent emergence, it gives them more possibilities about going hunting on the trade market over the next month.
While some teams are emerging as successful possible contenders, others are having underwhelming seasons that should make them consider punting in favor of next season. The Nuggets don’t have any mammoth contracts that they’re looking to offload, but they could be in the market for moving one of their younger wings that they don’t view as a long-term piece or they don’t have the minutes for. This Denver team is finally starting to click, and adding one of these strong talents could help their cause.
New Orleans Pelicans Shooting Guard J.J. Redick
The Nuggets have a bevy of great guards, and they have some talented big wings. However, one area that could use some work is getting more shooting off of the bench. After experiencing a miniature breakout season last year, Malik Beasley has struggled with his consistency this year, and he’s registered multiple DNP-Coach’s Decision already this year. He’s also in a contract year after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on an extension. Where would he fit in? On a New Orleans Pelicans squad that is already looking to the future.
J.J. Redick has yet to miss the playoffs in his 13 seasons up to this point, but he is on his way to missing them this year. Redick gives the young Pelicans some veteran leadership alongside point guard Jrue Holiday when he’s on the floor, and he’s been a deadeye shooter at 45.2 percent from 3-point range this year. That would be a close second for the Nuggets behind Paul Millsap, but the volume is significantly different with Redick tripling the per game attempts from Millsap.
Finding the salary filler to make this trade could be difficult unless they’re willing to move Gary Harris in the deal. With the recent play of Porter, that could be a possibility, but the team still seems to be set on keeping Harris as part of their young core. If they could find a third team to help facilitate the trade, they’d be getting one of the NBA’s best gunners to help them punch with the heavyweight offenses out West.
Minnesota Timberwolves Small Forward Robert Covington
This is another one that could be a little difficult to facilitate, but it would make a ton of sense for the team to pursue this move. Robert Covington has been one of the NBA’s best 3-and-D wings over the past four seasons. On the year, his offensive numbers are down, but he’s still playing well on defense, which is exactly where Denver needs him against their best competition.
Big wings like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and even Brandon Ingram have torched the Nuggets this season because they don’t have a big body that can hang with those guys for an extended run. Covington can be that guy in a similar fashion to how the Golden State Warriors deployed Andre Iguodala during their runs to the NBA Finals against James with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Covington brings decent size at 6’7” and 211 pounds, and he shot over 37 percent from 3-point range in each of three seasons. The shooting touch is there along with the defense. He also accepts his role on the offensive end which matches up perfectly alongside a number of ball-dominant players. He’s under contract for the next three seasons which could be a little more difficult to pry away from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but it could happen with some young talent dangled in their face.
Washington Wizards Power Forward Davis Bertans
This may be my favorite player out of this bunch. Pairing him with a guy like Mason Plumlee off of the bench just makes too much sense. Wizards forward Davis Bertans is deployed to shoot 3-point shots and not much else. 8.6 of 11.3 shots per game are 3-point attempts, and he’s shooting 43.4 percent from 3-point range on those 8.6 attempts. While he doesn’t bring much on the defensive end, they have enough pieces to make up for him.
In addition to being the most desireable on this list, he’s also the most affordable with only the $7 million of his deal this season coming his way. He has a $13 million team option for next season that the team could make a decision on based on his play, along with that of Millsap. If Millsap wants more money than the team is willing to pay, they could use their savings by keeping Bertans and Jerami Grant as their power forward rotation.
The Wizards are dealing with getting rid of bad contracts and aging veterans, and adding young talent around Bradley Beal, assuming he isn’t traded, should be their focus. Finding the money to make this trade work is doable, and Denver should be picking up the phone to talk some terms. 6’10” forwards that can shoot like Bertans don’t come around every day, and that’s why they’re always in high demand.