According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Nuggets have traded Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur to the Brooklyn Nets for Isaiah Whitehead in a salary dump.

In the deal, the Nuggets will send Brooklyn a first round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft protected 1 through 12 next year, as well as a future second round pick. Isaiah Whitehead will be waived, according to Woj.

Last season, Kenneth Faried played just 32 games for the Nuggets, falling out of the big man rotation in favor of Paul Millsap, Trey Lyles, Nikola Jokic, and Mason Plumlee. None of those guys are going anywhere, and while Faried is an excellent burst of energy in the right situation, this was the right move for Denver to make this year.

Darrell Arthur was moved as well. He played even less than Faried, appearing in just 19 contests. Both players were solid options at power forward over their years for Denver.

In order to move Faried and Arthur, the Nuggets had to send away two draft picks, the most important of which was a protected 2019 first round pick. The protections of the selection haven’t been released quite yet, but it’s safe to assume that the pick will be lottery protected or close to it.

Denver will shed over $21 million in salary by trading Faried and Arthur, putting them under the tax line on the season. This was always going to be the price to do it. To not have to give up an unprotected first round pick was a win for Denver. If they perform well enough, the pick will be less valuable anyway, and there’s enough youth on the roster that an additional first round pick may struggle to find playing time.

What this DOES do, as Jeff Siegel says above, is free up most of Denver’s mid-level exception. With $8.6 million in space below the luxury tax, the Nuggets have wiggle room to add a more pricy free agent if they care to do so.

Here’s what the current depth chart looks like:

Point Guard: Jamal Murray, Isaiah Thomas, Monte Morris (two-way)

Shooting Guard: Gary Harris, Malik Beasley

Small Forward: Will Barton, Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernangomez, Michael Porter Jr.

Power Forward: Paul Millsap, Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon, Jarred Vanderbilt

Center: Nikola Jokic, Mason Plumlee, Thomas Welsh (two-way)

For those counting at home, Denver now has 14 roster spots, two guys slated to be on two-way contracts, have filled their backup point guard hole, and have the majority of their mid-level exception available to use on another free agent if they choose. It’s lining up like the Nuggets still have a move to make.

We will have to wait and see on additional details for other potential free agents, but make no mistake, this was a win for Tim Connelly and the Denver Nuggets front office. They got better by adding Thomas, and they have the ability to get even better now.

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