Unlike many other NBA teams ahead of the trade deadline, the Denver Nuggets have quietly watched and waited without being involved in much. But as we’ve seen in previous years, the final day and even final hours can provide plenty of drama. A team who’s been in the shadows (like the Nuggets) throughout the early stages could certainly be putting in work behind the scenes to strike a deal as well.
Unfortunately, it’s a complete unknown as to whether or not the Nuggets have been active in talks, but based on their current outlook, adding an impact player could be a wise move. Denver is hot on the tail of the Golden State Warriors, holding the No. 2 seed in the crowded Western Conference. While they’re behind the Warriors, they hold a 3.5-game edge on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
One name who the Nuggets were previously linked to as a possible darkhorse option is New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis. While Davis has requested to be dealt, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor first reported that some believe the Nuggets are a team capable of completing a deal for him.
“But the Nuggets are considered by front-office executives as the off-the-radar team that actually has the assets to complete a deal, should they choose to enter the sweepstakes.” O’Connor details.
Chatter surrounding Davis, and another player who could address an interesting need in Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin, are both names to monitor. As Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson reported on Twitter, he believes Griffin has privately stated he wants to be moved and cited the Nuggets as a possible landing spot. To this point, there hasn’t been much heard from Denver, though, so the coming hours will be worth watching.
Let’s break down a potential deal for each of the two players, and how the packages could look.
Note: All deals created with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.
Nuggets Make Huge Final Push for Anthony Davis
*Nuggets send two future first-round picks, 2020 second-round pick to Pelicans
Based on the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are expected to offer massive hauls for Davis, the Nuggets would need to bring a huge deal to the table. With a core that features three major playmakers in Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton, it creates a nice starting point and beginning to a rebuild for the Pelicans. I even had to tack on an additional first-round pick to this deal as well to make it even somewhat realistic.
The addition of Michael Porter Jr. helps to add a talented young player with tremendous upside that could intrigue New Orleans. On the opposite sides, the Pelicans would send back Elfrid Payton’s expiring deal which helps fill the void at point guard for the Nuggets.
Realistically, Denver would only do this deal if they feel good enough about young guards Monte Morris and Malik Beasley, who have both flashed decent upside. The Nuggets would also become an appealing landing spot for free agents, so addressing shooting guard in the offseason wouldn’t be an issue.
Nuggets Strike Deal for Blake Griffin
*Nuggets send a first-round draft pick, future second-rounder to Pistons
I’m having a tough time nailing down what the Pistons would demand in return for Griffin, and there’s a good chance this wouldn’t get it done. With that said, Detroit is in search of their future point guard and Morris could be a nice addition if he continues his impressive growth as a player. The Paul Millsap part of the deal gives the Pistons a player who can help them stay competitive this year as well.
Finally, Will Barton or Gary Harris would be the key aspect of this deal, depending on where the Pistons turned their attention. Both players would be good pieces to acquire and will make an impact for multiple seasons. The first-round pick is surely a non-negotiable and it may take more than one also.