The NBA’s best players will throw down at the All-Star Game Sunday night in Atlanta, but behind the scenes, Denver’s front office has been preparing for the second half of the season behind closed doors.
It’s unknown what’s running through the minds of Tim Connelly and the rest of the Nuggets’ front office, but it is probably safe to assume that they are analyzing every viable way to bolster the team for an NBA playoff run.
The Nuggets are in a good spot all things considered. At 21-15, the Nuggets managed to enter the break on a high note by winning four consecutive road games amid stable play across the board.
That said, while the Nuggets are playing their best ball of the season at the moment, everyone familiar with the team knows about the shortcomings that plagued Denver through the first portion of the season.
There is no doubt the Nuggets will be in the market for upgrades this trade season. Although Denver’s odds of making a “blockbuster” deal are slim to none, the team could still be in the market for talent.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at the trade market and some players the Nuggets could consider making a move for down the stretch.
This season’s trade deadline is March 25, giving the Nuggets front office roughly two weeks to put the finishing touches on the roster ahead of the playoffs. Due to the uncertainty caused by covid-19 paired with the abnormality of the current season, it’s worth noting that this will probably be a quiet trade deadline across the board compared to years past.
With that, there will still be opportunities for Denver to improve.
Let’s get the big fish out of the way. Guys like DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine are rumored to be available at the trade deadline, and while they would be welcomed additions to the Nuggets, don’t expect Denver to pull off a move of this caliber. In order to facilitate a deal like this, we are talking about multiple draft picks, cash, and a crop of young talent. That just ain’t happening, so while Denver could use players of this caliber, it’s safe to say that they are likely out of the price range.
Mike Singer of The Denver Post proposed a handful of options in a story. Singer mentions DeRozan and arrives at the same conclusion. He also reports that Orlando, Houston, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, and Sacramento are expected to be open for business ahead of the deadline.
Terrance Ross is an intriguing option out of Orlando, given his ability to play off-ball, which would bode well within the Nuggets’ high octane offense. Jarrett Culver is another solid option for a wing player, but would a 22-year-old with upside move the needle for this playoff-ready team?
New Orleans has a slew of attractive players, but David Griffin demands a premium in return for any talent on his roster, which makes negotiating with the Pelicans a bit tough. That said, J.J. Redick seems like a natural option for Denver should they want to engage with the Pels.
Reddick is on a down year and on an expiring deal. A proven vet, perhaps he could find a spark in the Nuggets team-centric offense and provide a boost as a role player. This would not put Denver over the top, but it would certainly add veteran depth and leadership to a roster lacking in those departments.
PJ Tucker is another hot commodity on the block. The Houston Rockets forward will likely be flipped before March 25, but if the Nuggets want to acquire him, they’ll need to get ready to play with the big boys. The Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers have all expressed interest in acquiring the forward. Tucker would be a great add for Denver, but the other players involved will only drive up the asking price.
For the sake of getting funky, let’s throw out a familiar name: Jerami Grant. All Nuggets fans remember Grant and were saddened to learn of his departure to the Detroit Pistons last offseason, although money was not the motivating factor in that decision. Grant has dominated on a pitiful Pistons team, and oddly enough, his name was thrown out in a trade rumor involving the Boston Celtics.
Of course, Grant would be a coveted player should he become available, but reports indicate he is committed to Detroit for the long haul despite the franchise’s state. That said, should he want out, would Denver consider making a move? Remember, money wasn’t the issue here.
Last but not least… what about Boogie Cousins? Yes, his career has been a dumpster fire for the better part of four years now, but could his old head coach find a spark in the big man down the stretch? Malone has always been fond of Cousins dating back to their time together in Sacramento.
Denver could use an enforcer, and with the cost of acquiring talent via trade, perhaps this is the best low-risk, high-reward scenario out there.
Roughly two weeks until the deadline. Let’s see what Connelly and Co. do.