The NBA's February 23rd trade deadline is fast approaching, and that means it's rumor season once again. The nuggets are sitting on some trade pieces and if they play their cards right, can make a splash to secure their 8th seed in the Western Conference
The Denver Nuggets are currently sitting in the 8th seed in the Western Conference and also sitting on an extensive pile of trade assets. They are currently ranked at 3rd highest PPG, 3rd in rebounding, and 28th in opponent’s PPG in the entire NBA. The offensive numbers are off of the charts, but the Nugs defense is in need of serious work. Jusuf Nurkic, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari are the big trade assets on the roster, and the number of picks Denver controls offer a great chance for the Nuggets to improve their defense and secure their spot as 8th in the West.
If you’ve been paying attention to the Nuggets this season, you can make a secure bet that Denver is going to trade Nurk. The Bosnian Beast has been playing lackluster at best lately and seems to show legitimately no interest when sitting out on the bench. He’s averaging only 6.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 14.3 minutes per game in Nuggets last 10 match ups. These numbers come off as alarming for a 7 foot/280lbs Big Man, but seem frivolous when considering the recent advancements of Nikola Jokic. With Jokic coming into his role as one of the best up and coming big men in the entire NBA, Jusuf Nurkic remains expendable to the Nuggets franchise.
A trade would certainly benefit both sides. Nurkic deserves to be the starting center on an NBA roster, in fact, he was the starting center for the Nuggets this year before Jokic started to turn heads. As far as the franchise goes, Denver has a nice trading piece that just about any team in the league could potentially be interested in. No franchise, in particular, has emerged as a front-runner for Nurk, but the size and skill of this human being must be intriguing to just about any NBA team.
Mid-day Thursday, February 2nd, it was being rumored and reported by USA Today, NBA.com, and SLAMonline that Chandler wants off of The Denver Nuggets. This news comes shockingly at first but can be interpreted fairly easily. Chandler has played second to Danilo Gallinari his entire career, dating back to their time on The Knicks together. He’s having a great year so far averaging 15.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and posting a PER of 15.2 per game. Being an 8-year veteran, posting numbers like these, and having an uncommonly irregular spot in the rotation, Chandler likely wants to be a starting SF and start to think about titles. And to be fair, he shouldn’t be forced to stick around for the young core in Denver to develop.
Chandler would be a great fit in Oklahoma City. Andre Roberson, OKC’s starting SF, is only averaging 6.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Not necessarily saying Roberson is a great fit in Denver, but Chandler would be a huge improvement to OKC’s starting lineup. Sending someone like Domantas Sabonis and picks might make a great fit with fellow Eastern European big man Nikola Jokic and the franchise's young rebuild. It is also important to mention, Denver and OKC have recently been active trade partners. In the last year or so, the franchises have made 2 trades sending Randy Foye and Joffrey Lauvergne to OKC for picks and D.J. Augustine. This history suggests the franchises could make another trade rapidly.
Surprisingly, there have been rumors circulating at the possibility of Gallinari declining his player option in Denver and looking at his options in free agency. Currently, Gallo is the highest paid Nugget, making a cool $15,000,000 a year. He also has a $16,100,000 player option for the 2017-18 season.
As Nugglove.com wrote, Danilo Gallinari is a poor man’s, Carmelo Anthony. With the NBA trade world being dominated by the potential new destination of Anthony, teams could also get a good deal with Gallinari when looking to add a pure scorer to their roster. This year he is averaging 17.3 points, 5 rebounds, and a PER of 16.29 this year for The Nuggets. Teams that are looking for that extra scoring piece to make the next big step towards a title (L.A. Clippers, Boston Celtics) should seriously consider Gallo if Melo decides to stay in New York or leaves to a different team.