On Thursday afternoon, the Denver Nuggets made a minor trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, sending the draft rights of Ismael Kamagate to the Clippers for cash considerations.

Kamagate was the 46th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Nuggets selected Christian Braun and Peyton Watson in the first round that year before adding Kamagate later, who has been playing overseas in France for the last couple of seasons. The Nuggets brought Kamagate over for Summer League back to back years in Las Vegas, but this trade signifies that Denver wasn’t expecting to bring Kamagate over any time soon and decided to go a different direction.

 Will the cash they bring in make any difference in the present or future? Time will tell, but likely not.

Outside of that, the Nuggets were one of the only contenders to not make any additions to their roster. Among the top 10 teams in the NBA Standings today, seven made trades in an attempt to bolster playoff rotations. The only teams that didn’t were the Nuggets, Clippers, and Cleveland Cavaliers.

With teams around the Nuggets attempting to get better, it’s moderately surprising that Denver decided not to do the same. There’s always a chance Denver finds an opportunity to add to their roster via the buyout market, but there are restrictions to that avenue as well because the Nuggets are firmly in the luxury tax.

The reality is that the Nuggets did not have a lot of flexibility to make a roster move, especially with all five of Peyton Watson, Christian Braun, Julian Strawther, Jalen Pickett, and Hunter Tyson on rookie contracts. Denver wasn’t breaking up their starting five, and the only other “matching” salaries the Nuggets had were Reggie Jackson (sixth man), Zeke Nnaji (poison pill), Justin Holiday (veteran), Vlatko Cancar (veteran and injured), and DeAndre Jordan (wise sage). Denver also had no first round picks to trade and only a gaggle of second round picks. There wasn’t a lot they could do.

And perhaps that’s fine. Denver should still be considered the favorites to win the Western Conference. They’re on a similar path as last season, building up toward a playoff run where their starters and a shorter bench takes over. Will that work again? Maybe.

It’s also possible that an addition a rival team made at the deadline could prove to be the difference in Denver’s downfall, and that would be difficult to stomach. The Nuggets made decisions last June to turn their 2029 first round pick into affordable rookie salaries between Strawther, Pickett, and Tyson. They brought in Jackson on the taxpayer MLE rather than retain him at a minimum and try to add another veteran using that TP-MLE in free agency. Maybe those moves will look like genius down the line, but Strawther is unlikely to play a role in the playoffs, while Pickett and Tyson are extremely unlikely. The Nnaji extension appears to be a flop, and the Nuggets have barely used Justin Holiday in recent weeks.

If anything happens to Denver’s top eight in their rotation (Starters plus Jackson, Watson, and Braun) then the Nuggets will be in a really difficult spot. The championship roster balanced with internal development is fine in theory, but if the Nuggets enter a playoff series without the proper reinforcements, then their success this year will quite literally be balancing on a thread.

Then again, the Nuggets won a championship last year in a similar situation, so what do I know?