With just a tad over one month until the trade deadline, let’s take a look at the Nuggets’ assets. The Nuggets have a lot of talent on the roster but it hasn’t resulted in the start to the season they’d hoped for and some changes may be necessary if Denver wants to make a solid run at the playoffs. I think it is finally time for Denver to be buyers at the deadline and chase the 8th seed to get some excitement back in the city. I could see Denver standing pat or making a small move or two, but I think they will at least try to be very active this season (it does take two to tango, after all). To make this easier, let’s break the current Nuggets roster into some groups.
Most likely to be traded:
Jusuf Nurkic (Under contract through 2017-2018 season / Restricted Free Agent in 2018)
Nurkic has publicly voiced some discontent with the Nuggets and his role on the team. If a GM would have called the Nuggets 2 years ago, the front office would have probably hung up immediately. The Bosnian Beast’s change in status on the team is directly tied to Nikola Jokic’s meteoric rise. Nurkic has a lot of talent himself, but will teams be willing to give enough minutes to an old school big man to keep him happy?
Kenneth Faried (Under contract through 2018-2019 season)
Faried is an extremely high energy, high motor player with a defined ceiling. He’ll never be able to take over a playoff series by himself (an issue with almost everyone on the Nuggets roster currently), but he could play an important role on such a team. He’s always been a well-above average rebounder for his size, and no one questions his passion.
Danilo Gallinari (Contract ends this season / player option for the 2017-2018 season)
Gallo is a galvanizing player, to say the least. There are some fans that would like to see the Nuggets re-sign the Italian in the off-season to a long term deal, and some that think he’s reached his ceiling and needs to be flipped for assets. Gallinari can’t be the best player on a contending playoff team which, as previously mentioned, will be a common theme in this column. With that said, someone like the Cavaliers, Raptors, or Rockets would love to have someone with his scoring ability to complement the stars on those teams. Gallo’s value may be affected since his contract is up at the end of the year and team’s might be wary of him re-signing. If he isn’t traded, the Nuggets will have a tough decision this summer.
The Nuggets own their own 2017 first round draft pick as well as the Memphis Grizzlies 2017 first (top 5 protected) and second round picks. Many experts consider the upcoming draft to be one of the deepest in recent history, so if the Nuggets do make a deal, these are very valuable assets.
Could be traded for the right price:
Jameer Nelson (Under contract through 2017-2018 season)
Nelson is a veteran point guard that can get hot from behind the arc and knows the game inside and out. The Nuggets probably aren’t actively shopping Nelson, but could flip him if necessary and may be willing to do so just to give more minutes to Jamal Murray.
Will Barton (Under contract through 2017-2018 season)
For a time last year, Will Barton was a contender for the NBA’s 6th man of the year award. He’s shown flashes of being that caliber of player, but hasn’t been as consistent this year. If the Nuggets were going to move him, they probably would have gotten more value last year, but he still brings some scoring to the table for a team that thinks they can make a run.
Wilson Chandler (Under contract through 2017-2018 season / player option for the 2018-2019 season)
Chandler started the season on a tear and has cooled down in recent weeks. His contract is very team friendly compared to contracts signed in this past off-season around the league. His numbers are currently comparable to someone like Harrison Barnes (who received a max deal from the Mavericks last off-season).
Darrell Arthur (Under contract through 2017-2018 season / player option for the 2018-2019 season)
Arthur has found himself in and out of the rotation throughout his tenure in Denver but he could bring some value to a team that needs a big man that can shoot the 3. With that being said, if a team is calling the Nuggets to get a player similar to this, they’d probably ask for Gallinari or Chandler first as they are more versatile.
Mike Miller (Contract ends this season / team option for 2017-2018 season)
The only reason I can see Miller being traded is to make the salaries work. He won’t bring much to any team other than a veteran presence, which most teams already have.
Alonzo Gee (10 day contract at the time of writing)
Gee may or may not be on the team when the trade deadline rolls around, but regardless I don’t see him being included in anything unless it is to make the salaries work.
Unlikely to be traded:
Gary Harris (Under contract through 2017-2018 season / Restricted Free Agent in 2018)
Harris is a versatile two-way player for the Nuggets. His offense still needs more work, but he has shown the ability to knock down 3’s as well as get to the rim on a fairly consistent basis. He needs to continue developing his skills, but I don’t see him getting moved unless the Nuggets can aquire a star.
Emmanuel Mudiay (Under contract through 2017-2018 / team option for 2018-2019 season / Restricted Free Agent in 2019)
Mudiay has been an enigma, but I don’t see the Nuggets giving up on him altogether. He may start losing minutes to Murray later on this season unless he continues to improve.
Jamal Murray (Under contract through 2017-2018 / team option for both the 2018-2019 season and the 2019-2020 season / Restricted Free Agent in 2020)
If the Nuggets are active before the deadline, teams will probably ask for Murray. He’s shown the ability to score in bunches at times, and his shot will continue to improve. His defense leaves something to be desired, but he’s a low risk, high reward type of young talent. Like with Gary Harris, I don’t see the Nuggets moving Murray unless there is a star coming to Denver in the deal.
Malik Beasley (Under contract through 2017-2018 / team option for both the 2018-2019 season and the 2019-2020 season / Restricted Free Agent in 2020)
Beasley has split time with the Nuggets and the Sioux Falls Skyforce this season. With that being said, he is a shooter and the Nuggets surely lack in that department. I don’t see him getting moved – at least not this year.
Juan Hernangomez (Under contract through 2017-2018 / team option for both the 2018-2019 season and the 2019-2020 season / Restricted Free Agent in 2020)
Hernangomez has also been back and forth with the Nuggets and the Skyforce but he has played a more significant role than Beasley thus far. He has the stretch 4 capability that all NBA teams desire, so his name may be brought up in trade talks. If the Nuggets move off of Nurkic, Faried, Gallinari, or Chandler – Juancho’s role should increase.
Nikola Jokic (Under contract through 2017-2018 / team option for the 2018-2019 season)
Unless something miraculous happens and Denver sees themselves being offered multiple first round picks in a deep draft or a superstar requests to specifically play in Denver, I don’t see Jokic being moved whatsoever. There’s not much more that needs to be said here. The Joker is in Denver’s future.