How is this Nuggets team looking to you?

The way I see it, just about a quarter of the way through the 82 game schedule, the Nuggets grade out as an incomplete. Through 18 games the team has only played in six home games (5-1 at home). It has been very hard to get a read on this team because of the unbalanced schedule and also because the team is trying to gel and find their identity.

It has been said one-thousand times that Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington are gone, but it has taken actually seeing them out of the lineup to notice just how much their impact has been missed. I’m not saying that the Nuggets should not have made the trade for Andre Iguodala, but rather that it has just been a bigger adjustment than I first thought. Those two players were often in the lineup at crunch time and accounted for a large portion of the Nuggets’ offense. Different faces have now been filling the void and trying to find their way. Notably Kenneth Faried, who is often counted on as the only big late in the fourth quarter (where he has been doing a tremendous job for the team).

But one can't help but look out onto the horizon and wonder what is to come of this team. While Faried's post game has been churning along nicely, he still has an incomplete offensive game as his range is still limited mostly to the paint. He will occasionally take a jumper, but with very mixed results. Defensively, the Manimal also has been struggling to guard power forwards who can do more than just post up. And the Denver big men still have big issues with defensive rotations and guarding the pick-and-roll.

Danilo Gallinari has looked good, at times, on both ends of the floor. There is no question that he can be a play-maker, floor spacer, and foul shot provider, but he’s also, arguably, the Nuggets’ most tradeable asset and with Iguodala around – he also might be the most expendable (as Dala can play either the two or the three). But there is no question that Gallo’s youth fits the team more-so than Iguodala and Gallo is also locked up beyond the season. Iguodala has until June 30, 2013 to decide if he wants to opt in-or-out of the final year of his contract for the 2013-14 season. If Iguodala opted out, this team could look quite different come next season … or even different by the trade deadline (if Iguodala makes up his mind early … to opt out).

Let's take a look at a couple players and what they might mean for this Nuggets team.

Yesterday I was exchanging emails with Conrad Kaczmarek of Fear the Sword (Cavaliers blog) about a trade idea he brought to the attention of Matt Moore of CBS' Eye on Basketball. The trade was as follows:

Nuggets get:
Anderson Varejao
Luke Walton (expiring contract)

Cavaliers get:
Danilo Gallinari
Wilson Chandler
Timofey Mozgov

Can be seen on ESPN's Trade Machine here.

This would sort of be an odd trade as the Nuggets would be flipping three-quarters of the Carmelo Anthony deal to Cleveland for Varejao – or trading ‘Melo for Varejao in a roundabout way.

The skinny on the Cavaliers' Brazilian:

Anderson Varejao

#17 / Center / Cleveland Cavaliers



Sep 28, 1982


For you math majors reading this, Varejao was born in 1982 so that makes him 30 years old. Why would the Nuggets ship out youth for a veteran player? Especially when the youth movement seems to be on in Denver? Well, did the trade for a 28 year-old Iguodala strike anyone else as a sort of odd move?

The Nuggets definitely needed a veteran voice on this team, so Iguodala fit that role perfectly. But making a move for Varejao would lead folks to believe that the Nuggets were seriously gearing up for a makeover to make a title run. Varejao has been putting up eye-popping numbers for the Cavaliers the past two seasons and is rotting away on a team that is going nowhere. But would the Nuggets be going anyone with him aboard and Gallo out of the picture? (I can't put much stock in losing Chandler or Mozgov as neither guy has been in the mix for the Nuggets this season, thus far).

Varejao has put up nine straight games of 15+ rebounds. Check out his stats below … the guy is averaging 15.1 points and 15.3 rebounds per game in 36 minutes of action. He is also killer at the foul line at 80.7% with nearly four attempts per game – something the Nuggets do not have. He also carries a reliable jumper in his bag of tricks.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2012 – Anderson Varejao 16 36.4 6.1 11.4 53.6 0.0 0.2 0.0 2.9 3.6 80.7 6.0 9.3 15.3 3.3 1.8 1.4 0.4 2.5 15.1

Pairing Varejao with Faried in the starting lineup would make rebounding for the opposition nearly impossible. This would also mean that Kosta Koufos‘ days as the starting Nuggets center would be over. With Varejao needing 30+ minutes per night it would also make JaVale McGee a bench guy for the foreseeable future too. Koufos could still log minutes at the power forward spot, but his role with the team would take the most significant hit.

The other issue with making a Gallo for Varejao swap … the wings. While Denver would be clearing up a logjam at the wing position by dealing Gallo and WC, they would also need to get creative with the starting lineup. I could see Iguodala sliding over to the small forward position and perhaps Corey Brewer sliding into the starting lineup. But George Karl likes Brewer as his wildcard off the bench. I could also see Jordan Hamilton getting the starting nod, but likely playing the role of Dahntay Jones, meaning he’d start the game and see small minutes … start the third quarter and see small minutes as well.

The move for Varejao would have to be a two-pronged move. Denver would have some free cash to go get a wing player in the offseason if they needed to, but the market isn't all that great for the 2013 free agent class.

Names out there include: O.J. Mayo (if he declines a player option and becomes a free agent), Kevin Martin, Manu Ginobili, JJ Redick, Nick Young, Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow, Reggie Williams (not the 1994 version that played in Denver!), Dorell Wright, Chase Budinger, and more. Basically role players and a few guys on the downside of their careers.

Conrad got me thinking as Varejao is playing some fine basketball right now. The Varejao swap would be an interesting one, but the Nuggets would likely still be another move away.

What about Paul Millsap? Could the Nuggets and Jazz work out a deal within the division?

What about this:

Nuggets get:
Paul Millsap
Alec Burks

Jazz get:
Danilo Gallinari
Quincy Miller

You can see the deal on ESPN's trade machine here.

The skinny on Millsap:

Paul Millsap

#24 / Forward / Utah Jazz



Feb 10, 1985

Louisiana Tech

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2012 – Paul Millsap 19 30.7 5.0 11.1 45.2 0.6 1.1 52.4 3.4 4.6 72.7 2.6 5.7 8.4 2.5 2.1 0.9 0.9 3.4 13.9

We've all seen what Millsap can do. He's a good rebounder, gets to the foul line and can hit shots, can stretch the floor out to the three point line, and can flat out score the basketball. The reason I bring up this trade is because the Jazz have an abundance of big men and need to move some pieces. This deal would actually make Utah a very good team as it would give them the small forward they need in Gallo.

Word is that Alec Burks is on the block in Utah, but maybe he was just in the doghouse? I would be hesitant to include Quincy Miller in the deal, but I'm sure the Jazz would want some type of young player or draft pick in the deal. Anyhow, a trade for Millsap and Burks would allow the Nuggets to do a few things … slide Iguodala to small forward, start either Burks, Hamilton, or Brewer at the two, start Millsap at the four, and start JaVale McGee. A trade for Millsap could mean the Nuggets could bring Faried in off the bench and he could go all Manimal all night.

Wrap up:

Would either deal be realistic for the Nuggets? I don’t know. Before the season started I said that I wouldn’t trade Gallo for Rudy Gay or Danny Granger in our player rankings piece. It would be a bold move by the Nuggets to trade the 24 year-old Gallo. He is having a rough start to his season and finding consistency shooting the ball has plagued Gallo during his young career.

Putting his name in the trades above was more about what I thought the opposition would ask for and also because I was asked by another blogger about a Cavaliers deal that he (Conrad) wanted an opinion on. I have no idea if the Nuggets will be in the trade market this season or not, but nothing would surprise me. I'm sure there are plenty of teams out there that would want to talk to the Denver front office about Gallo, Faried, and others.

The best part of this whole article? We were asked via Twitter to ban all ESPN Trade Machine links and here I am providing more trade talk!

You can kill the dreamer, but you can't kill the trading dream!

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