As expected, the Denver Nuggets were fairly active as the trade deadline came and went this Thursday afternoon. Here’s a quick recap of their moves:

The Nuggets sent Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Will Barton, Victor Claver, Thomas Robinson, and a lottery-protected 2016 first-round pick. Barton, a shooting guard, is the former 40th overall pick in the 2009 draft.

This season with the Blazers he’s averaging 3.8 points in 11 minutes per-game. Claver is a six-foot-nine power forward out of Spain and was the 22nd pick in the 2009 draft. He’s appeared in 80 games for Portland since then, and has averaged 3.2 points per-game. Robinson was the fifth overall pick out of Kansas in the 2012 draft by Sacramento, and has bounced around a bit since then. For his career he’s averaging 4.6 points in 13.5 minutes per-game.

That wasn’t all. In a straight salary dump, the Nuggets sent center JaVale McGee, a protected 2015 first-round pick (from Oklahoma City) and the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum to Philadelphia in exchange for the rights to Cenk Akyol.

The Nuggets then signed their 2013 second-round draft pick, Joffrey Lauvergne, making him the newest member of the organization.

That’s a lot to process. First, let’s say some goodbyes.

Arron Afflalo: Afflalo was a minor letdown in his return engagement with the Nuggets. Asked to be the second or third-option night-to-night, his scoring has dropped from 18.2 points-per game to 14.5 this season, while (predictably) his three-point percentage has also plummeted. He clearly had a hard time getting on the same page with head coach Brian Shaw, and it looked like the losing and negative vibes around the team was affecting Afflalo’s play as the season wore on.

That being said, Afflalo’s still a very good player in a lot of ways. He’s an above-average on ball-defender, (usually) a good three-point shooter, and has shown a willingness to play with his back to the basket. His problems in Denver this time around always seemed very rooted in the frustration of losing constantly. Around the league he’s known as a competitor, notoriously hard-worker, and solid locker-room presence. Now he can rinse off and chase a ring in Portland.

Alonzo Gee: Joining Afflalo will be Alonzo Gee, and I’ll be sorry to see him go. Gee was often the player Shaw would go to looking for a spark of energy, and that’s exactly what Gee is – he quickly became a fan favorite for his hustle on both ends of the court. Too often Gee appeared on the wrong-end of a blowout this season, and it’s tough to say how many minutes he’ll get in Portland. Here’s hoping he finds a role.

JaVale McGee: Well, the Nuggets found a taker, and it’s likely that the 76ers will just buy out the rest of McGee’s contract. If that happens, he’ll latch on somewhere, but can McGee stay healthy? That was never the case in Denver – he’s still just 27, but after multiple surgeries and almost two years of barely any basketball, it’s tough to see McGee ever harnessing what once made him so intriguing.

As for the players the Nuggets acquired? There are a few buy-out possibilities in play –

And if things hold, as Nate Timmons of Denver Stiffs points out, the Nuggets roster would be a bit unbalanced.


So things are still a little unsettled, but it looks like the Nuggets are finally starting to rebuild, even if they didn’t completely tear things down. Getting out from under the burden of McGee’s contract is a weight off the organization’s shoulders, even if the team had to surrender a first-round pick to do it. I’m not sure any of today’s new Nuggets ever plays meaningful minutes with the team, but at least Denver is starting to move away from whatever hasn’t been working the past two years.

Now it’s up to general manager Tim Connelly to guide the team through it’s rebuild. Finally out from that albatross of a deal, his next test will come during the NBA draft, where it’s likely the Nuggets will again be at the forefront of trade talks.

Check back in for more as this story develops, including a breakdown of the newly acquired members of the Nuggets.

Zach Marburger is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BurchBurger.

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