Nuggets Trade Proposal Adds Jamal Murray Backup, Fulfill Nikola Jokic’s Wish

Nuggets stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic

Getty Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets high fives Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets.

With the Denver Nuggets looking to reshape their supporting cast around their top stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray after falling short of title repeat, Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey proposed a minor trade that could have a major impact next season.

Denver Nuggets receive: Vasilije Micić

Charlotte Hornets receive: Zeke Nnaji

Trading for Micić could give the Nuggets a veteran backup to Murray especially if Reggie Jackson declines his $5.2 million player option and signs for bigger money elsewhere.

The impact of Micić’s potential addition could address the Nuggets’ main weakness — their bench scoring which was exposed in the playoffs, especially when Jokic gets his customary rest.

“Beyond adding one of Nikola Jokić’s countrymen, this deal would give Denver something that it has desperately needed throughout the Jokić era: a steady creator when the big man is off the floor,” Bailey wrote.

The Nuggets were outscored by 20.1 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs when Jokic was off the court, per Basketball Reference.

The 30-year-old Micić averaged 7.0 points and 4.4 assists in his first season in the NBA, splitting his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Charlotte Hornets, after spending a decade in Europe.

After LaMelo Ball went down with an ankle injury, Micić started in 21 games and averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 assists and 2.4 rebounds for the Hornets.

Meanwhile, Bailey said the 23-year-old Nnaji “could still develop into an interesting pick-and-pop partner with LaMelo Ball” which would not happen in Denver with his limited playing time.

Nikola Jokic Wants Vasilije Micić in Denver

Trading for the Serbian national team point guard would also fulfill Jokic’s wish to play with his countryman.

In 2022, Yahoo Sports’ NBA insider Jake Fischer reported for Bleacher Report that “Jokic has been said to be a driving factor in Denver’s interest to obtain the [2021] EuroLeague MVP.”

Micić was humbled by Jokic’s reported desire to play with him in the NBA.

“I cannot say that I am such a close friend with Nikola [Jokic] because he lives in his own world. He is so a unique person, first of all. He is such a humble guy and I cannot understand how he manages that, how he handles that attention that he has because he is the best player in the world,” Micić told BasketNews in June of 2022.

Jokic’s wish was not granted when the Thunder, who acquired Micić’s rights from the Philadelphia 76ers in the Al Horford trade, brought him to the NBA on a multi-year deal. Still, Micić held Jokic in high regard.

“He makes such a small country like Serbia so recognizable and so famous and I am just trying from the shadow to support his achievements and make it even bigger,” he added.

Nuggets’ Offseason Moves to Cater to Nikola Jokic

With the Nuggets projected to be a second-apron team, their options to upgrade the roster are severely limited unless they unload one of their stars.

But the Nuggets are committed to spending big with Jokic around.

“You have a responsibility to him (Jokic),” Denver president Josh Kroenke told reporters at the Nuggets’ exit interview.

With the Nuggets unable to send more money in a trade as a second-apron team, Booth hinted at improving the roster on the fringes.

“Obviously, maybe in our top seven, we can use a little bit more talent,” general manager Calvin Booth said at the team’s postseason presser. “Maybe there’s a way to upgrade one or two positions. But I don’t see anything that’s, like, crazy out of sorts for our roster.”

The Nnaji-Micić trade proposal from Bailey fits that bill and the new CBA as the former earns more (8.8 million) than the latter ($7.7 million).

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