As the NBA trade deadline nears, the Denver Nuggets have explored all of their options to upgrade their roster. They are making calls, gauging offers, and considering every opportunity to add to a group that they believe could make some serious noise in the playoffs this year.
The leading player on the market, forward Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic, is a player the Nuggets have seriously pursued in recent days.
“Boston, multiple sources confirmed, has offered two first-round picks. No other teams on the board have yet to reach that offer level. It’s not known yet what types of protections are attached to those talks but there is an assumption there will be some, if not significant, protections on the first-rounders.
Additionally, the framework involves Evan Fournier going to Boston, with the Celtics sending a player, the two picks, and using their Traded Player Exception from the Gordon Hayward trade.”
After missing out on an opportunity to add center Myles Turner in the offseason, the Celtics are serious about improving their roster prior to the trade deadline. The Celtics have had a disappointing season to this point, currently sitting at 21-21 and far away from opposing Eastern Conference contenders. Could Gordon change their fate? It’s possible.
Having the flexibility to also take on Evan Fournier using the trade exception generated from the Gordon Hayward sign and trade in the offseason gives the Celtics a nice trade chip to entice the Magic. They wouldn’t have to take back extra money in the trade, and it would open up some roster flexibility for the Magic in the coming offseason, a roster that is currently capped out after extended two players with season-ending injuries—Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac—before the season.
The Nuggets, in order to acquire Gordon, would have to be willing to match Boston’s offer to the Magic. Orlando, behind closed doors of course, has expressed interest in a starting shooting guard replacement for Fournier, a young prospect, and a first round pick. The Nuggets can provide all three, as Moore notes later in the article:
“The Denver Nuggets are considered another serious contender with Will Barton, Bol Bol, and draft compensation among the assets offered.”
This probably isn’t Denver’s best offer. If the Magic were more intrigued with Gary Harris as the shooting guard coming back in the deal, then the Nuggets might offer Harris instead. In addition, the Nuggets have two 2020 first round picks on their roster in R.J. Hampton and Zeke Nnaji that have displayed some interesting skills for the modern NBA.
Whether Aaron Gordon is the right player for the Nuggets to go all-in for is unclear, but a move like the one above would be Denver’s first considerable trade acquisition in a long time, possibly since Arron Afflalo from the Magic prior to the 2014-15 season or even Andre Iguodala prior to the 2012-13 season. Neither of those players lasted longer than a year in Denver, and the Nuggets have to be concerned about Gordon departing in free agency in 2022 when his contract expires.
Still, the Nuggets owe it to their team and to the season Nikola Jokić is having to try to win a championship. If Denver can find a price they can live with, Gordon would be a tremendous addition for Denver at the deadline and improve their chances of matching up with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers come playoff time. The risk would be high, especially on short notice during a weird season amid a global pandemic; however, the reward could be the franchise’s first NBA Finals run in franchise history. An extra first round pick seems a small price to pay at that point.