The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching. Starting today, teams have one week until they’re barred from swapping players and picks. The deadline is 1 p.m. MT on Feb. 23.
Although the Nuggets have already made one major move — shipping Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick to Portland for Mason Plumlee and a second rounder — it’s possible Denver is not yet done dealing.
Several high-profile Nuggets players have been named in trade rumors. Below are the three players on Denver’s roster I think have the greatest likelihood of being moved. Let me stress that I am not saying I think they will be traded — just that I wouldn’t be shocked if any of them are, based on what’s already been reported and the way Denver’s roster is constructed.
2016-17: 17.2 points (43.2% FG, 38.1% from 3), 4.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists
The Nuggets are loaded at small forward. They have Gallinari, Wilson Chandler (more on him in a minute) and promising rookie Juancho Hernangomez. It’s hard to envision all three of them being on Denver’s roster next year. Hernangomez, who had a 29-point, 10-rebound game against Golden State earlier this week, has looked good in the limited opportunities he’s received this season.
Gallinari has a player option worth $16.1 million next year. If he opts out, the Nuggets could lose him for nothing. Denver could trade him now, get something valuable back and not worry about the small forward rotation next year with Chandler and Hernangomez waiting in the wings.
ESPN’s Marc Stein offered this shortly after the Nurkic deal: “League sources say Danilo Gallinari is a prime Nugget to watch between now and the deadline. The Raptors and Clippers are among the teams said to be monitoring Gallinari’s availability.”
2016-17: 15.6 points (45.4% FG, 33.8% from 3), 6.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists
A USA Today report from earlier this month indicated that Chandler was frustrated and wanted out of Denver. The report said that even though Chandler is getting big minutes — right now he’s playing 30.9 per game — he’d grown frustrated with being yanked in and out of the starting lineup.
Asked about the rumor, Chandler told the Denver Post, “I wouldn’t say that (I’m unhappy), but I would definitely like to be in something more consistent.”
Chandler is a valuable piece of this Nuggets team. He’s capable of sliding over to power forward when needed and is often relied on to generate offense when Nikola Jokic goes to the bench.
He’s under contract through the end of the 2018-19 season. He’s owed $12.1 million in 2017-18 and $12.9 million in the final year of his deal. Those are fairly team-friendly numbers in today’s NBA.
2016-17: 11.8 points (36.9% FG, 30.8% 3s), 3.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists
It’s year two for the No. 7 selection in the 2015 draft, and he’s still struggling mightily. He’s a poor defender, and his shooting numbers are among the worst in basketball for a rotation player.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote Wednesday that “Mudiay is available, per several league sources.”
Jameer Nelson has filled in nicely as the starting point guard while Mudiay’s dealt with back issues. Rookie Jamal Murray has also looked good playing backup point guard in Mudiay’s absence. Moving Mudiay would signal that Denver is confident in the Nelson/Murray point guard rotation the rest of the season and believes in Murray as the point guard of the future.
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