The Denver Nuggets are perhaps the most interesting team as the trade deadline approaches. The Nuggets have been stockpiling young talents the last few years and finally looked poised to contend. They are currently the 8th seed in the Western Conference and are hoping to take the team to the next level in this deadline.
The Nuggets have a great problem, in the sense that they can trade away veteran assets and not hurt their contending chances. They are deep and have players that are capable of logging minutes on a playoff team, but they are blocked by more established veterans. All of this creates a Nuggets team that should be making moves before Thursday’s deadline.
Today, we will examine the move the Nuggets already made and then, take a look at a few players that can be shipped out of Denver and what returns the Nuggets would be seeking in those deals. Let us get down to brass tax.
What Already Happened
The Denver Nuggets already made a significant trade this season. On February 12th, the Nuggets acquired Mason Plumlee and a 2nd round pick from the Portland Trail Blazers. In the deal, the Nuggets parted ways with a 1st round pick and Jusuf Nurkic.
The deal brought the Nuggets another playmaking big man and a player with a unique skillset. The cost of a 1st round pick and a young asset in Nurkic was high, but it allowed the team to be more cohesive. In Plumlee, they now have a playmaking five on the court at all times to pair with Nikola Jokic. That allows the team to run the same sets and work the ball through the big man regardless of who is on the floor.
Overall, I think the Denver Nuggets did well in the trade. They gave up a pick their acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies, and Nurkic for a player who better fit their team and a 2nd round draft pick next year. Sometimes, the trade is not the best on paper but is exactly what your team needs. This move has the potential to be just that for the Nuggets.
Danilo Gallinari - SF/PF
Danilo Gallinari has been a staple of the Denver Nuggets rotation for the last seven years. Since arriving in 2010, Gallinari has averaged 15.9 points, 1.7 three-pointers made, 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game in 31.2 minutes a night. Gallinari has been good for the Nuggets during his stay.
Danilo Gallinari has a player option on his contract at $16.1 million for next season. He can become a free agent after this season and given the NBA’s current cap climate that is more likely than not. The Nuggets are not going to foot the bill for a big contract for Gallinari. They have readymade replacements on the bench, so let us look at Gallinari’s value on the trade market.
Danilo Gallinari is a pretty underrated talent. Gallinari is a proven scorer (averaging 18.5 points per game combined in his last 97 games). He has also proven to be an above average three-point shooter (36.8% for his career). If you view win shares per 48, Gallo has rated significantly above an average league player in seven of his eight NBA seasons. Danilo Gallinari is clearly a player with immense talent.
The team buying Gallinari is only for certain to get the stretch run out of him, though. There are no guarantees after this season, which as always should depress his value.
Potential Landing Spots
Danilo Gallinari has been linked with numerous teams in recent days. The Dallas Mavericks are reported to have interest. The Boston Celtics are a team always rumored to be in the Gallinari sweepstakes, as well. I do not see either of those teams pulling the trigger on Gallo, so let us look at a few more realistic options.
The Toronto Raptors are a team heavily linked to Danilo Gallinari. Toronto recently made a move for Serge Ibaka, but the team could use Gallo at the three as an upgrade to DeMarre Carroll. The Raptors may no longer have the assets to acquire Mister Gallinari, though.
The team I think that is most likely to acquire Gallinari before the deadline is the LA Clippers. There is plenty of reported interest and rightfully so, as Gallinari could fill their glaring need at small forward and finally make the Clippers a legitimate title contender when healthy. If I am Doc Rivers (and hint: I am not), I meet the Nuggets asking price and acquire Danilo Gallinari before another team does.
Whether it is the Toronto Raptors, LA Clippers, or a mystery team, I expect Danilo Gallinari to be moved before Thursday’s trade deadline, so stay tuned for the trade.
Wilson Chandler - SF/PF
Wilson Chandler is another underrated player for the Denver Nuggets. Chandler is never a player who gets notoriety or shows up on SportsCenter, but this dude can ball. I have an affinity for Chandler’s game (despite what is a slightly scary neck tattoo that always grabs my attention), but the Nuggets have younger players to fill the 29-year-old’s role. Let us examine his value to see what he could fetch Denver this trade season.
Believe it or not, Wilson Chandler’s stats look very similar to those posted by Serge Ibaka this season. Now Ibaka is blocking more shots (1.6 per game to 0.4 by Chandler) and shooting higher percentages, but Chandler is averaging more assists (2.1 to 1.1) and steals (0.8 to 0.6). The three-pointers made are identical at 1.5 per game, and the Chandler has a slight edge in points per game (15.6 to 15.1). Not many people would believe that Wilson Chandler’s numbers are that similar to Serge Ibaka's, but it is the case.
Admittedly, the advanced metrics do not love Wilson Chandler, but his contract is looking like an asset in today’s market. He has two years remaining after this season on his deal at $24.8 million combined. Roughly $12 million a season for a player that can score, stretch the floor, and defend multiple positions, I think some teams will be interested in that player.
Potential Landing Spots
ESPN reports suggest that the Houston Rockets could be the team to acquire Wilson Chandler. Chandler would probably slot in as the backup small forward behind Trevor Ariza and log some minutes at the four behind Ryan Anderson and Sam Dekker. The Rockets are an interesting fit, but potentially out of the running with their recent Lou Williams acquisition.
Two other teams heavily linked to Wilson Chandler are the LA Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Chandler would fill a need for both teams and could be potential landing spots for Mister Chandler. I think both would be willing to part with a pick to get Chandler wearing their uniform.
Wilson Chandler would be a fit on almost any contending club given his versatility and willingness to play off the bench. He is comfortable being a role player and would probably welcome the chance to join a team in serious contention for the NBA title.
I could see Wilson Chandler moving on at the trade deadline and right now I would peg the odds at 77 percent that we see Chandler wearing a new uniform following Thursday’s deadline. Stay tuned to see what transpires.
Emmanuel Mudiay - PG
Emmanuel Mudiay is still just 20-years-old and only in his second NBA season, but it has not been a good year for him the court. Mudiay’s numbers have regressed in most categories including the all-important minutes per game. Let us look at his value heading into Thursday’s deadline at this time.
Mudiay was drafted in 2015 as the point guard of the Nuggets future. This is still a young kid, but his shot appears broken to me. A career 36.5% shooter from the field and 31.5% from three-point territory, Mudiay is in desperate need of improving his shot if he wants to be a starting point guard.
The advanced metrics are not a fan of Mudiay’s game. He is the first player I have noticed to have negative win shares per 48 number. Consider that 0.100 is an average league player, so a bad player is like 0.035, but Mudiay rates at negative 0.033 for his career. He has, also, produced a negative 1.7 value over replacement player (VORP) for his career.
Mudiay’s value lies in the fact that he is only 20 years old and was viewed as a potential impact point guard coming out of the draft. NBA teams do not forget that easily and the team acquiring will have a plan on how to make the most of Mudiay’s talent.
Potential Landing Spots
The Nuggets are reported to be shopping Emmanuel Mudiay. Most likely, the would be looking to acquire a veteran point guard in exchange for Mudiay and I am not sure they would be able to secure a veteran that would exceed Denver’s interest in the potential of Mudiay.
I do not see Mudiay being moved before the deadline unless it is part of a blockbuster trade that nets the Nuggets a superstar player (and I just don’t think the Nuggets are looking to make that type of deal). I’ll give Mudiay’s chances of moving before the deadline at 8 percent.
Will Barton - SG/SF
Will Barton is unlikely to be moved before Thursday’s deadline, but I could see him being part of a package with either Gallinari or Chandler to net the Nuggets a higher pick or more draft picks. I thought his name was worth throwing in here and mentioning that there is a non-zero chance that he is moved before the deadline.
Kenneth Faried - PF/C
Kenneth Faried is the player the Nuggets could trade that nobody is talking about. They just acquired another big man in Mason Plumlee and have Juancho Hernangomez waiting in the wings at power forward. Faried could be expendable if he could net the Nuggets a current or future asset.
Kenneth Faried is having yet another Kenneth Faried season. He is a high energy player who can never earn a consistent 30-minute role but looks good in his short bursts. This season his minutes and production are down slightly, but mostly due to the Nuggets depth and not his poor play.
Faried has two years remaining on his contract after this season at $26.6 million combined. That is a contract that is probably polarizing depending on which camp you are in on Faried as a player. Some people view Faried as a chronic underachiever who can never quite blossom and other love what Faried does on the court. That contract is probably viewed very differently through each of those lenses.
Potential Landing Spots
Numerous teams could be interested in Kenneth Faried. This is purely speculation on my part, but Faried looks like a good fit for the Atlanta Hawks or Boston Celtics. A team I could always pick Faried on was the Memphis Grizzlies, although I do not believe they will make a move for Faried at this time.
Be on the lookout to see if Kenneth Faried starts popping up in the rumors or is traded before the February 23rd deadline.
There you have it, the Denver Nuggets trade deadline rumor roundup. The Nuggets look to be an active and aggressive team leading up to the deadline, so expect to see something happen before Thursday.
I think the Nuggets will clear space for Jamal Murray to occupy a 30 minute a game role down the stretch. Murray has recently shown some flashes in limited minutes and looks to be a big part of the Nuggets future. If you have been tuning into Hashtag Basketball’s Watching the Boxes Podcast, you will know my infinity for Jamal Murray, and I think a big second half breakout is coming, so be on the lookout for that.