Mozgov, who is earning $3.1 million in the last year of his contract, will become a restricted free agent at the end of this season. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, with Andrew Iguodala and Corey Brewer also set to become free agents, the recent buzz coming out of Denver suggests the Nuggets won’t try to re-sign the 7’1” Russian.
Denver’s front line also includes centers JaVale McGee and Kosta Koufos. Both players are younger than Mozgov, and both have outproduced him. With the trade deadline approaching, Mozgov appears to be the odd man out of the group.
“It’s logical because they have three centers and it’s hard for [coach George] Karl to play them all,” one NBA GM said, according to Spears' report.
Mozgov had his best season in 2011/2012 when he averaged 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He’s certainly no All-Star, but he could develop into a solid big man for the Nets and help them contend with the Miami Heat and New York Knicks.
Acquiring Mozgov will also allow coach P.J. Carlesimo to insert Andray Blatche into the starting lineup.
Blatche has been a pleasant surprise for the Nets this season, averaging 10.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Ideally, Blatche would have already been starting at power forward alongside center Brook Lopez, but the lack of roster flexibility has forced Carlesimo to use him as a backup center.
At 6’11”, Blatche has the size to play center in the NBA, but his ability to stretch the floor with his jump shot makes him more of a natural power forward. Starting Blatche would also allow Carlesimo to relegate the struggling Reggie Evans back to a reserve role.
The Nets have a surplus of power forwards, and general manager Billy King would be best served by dumping Kris Humphries and his $12 million contract. Unfortunately, dealing Humphries to Denver would put the Nuggets over the luxury tax.
There is, however, the option of trading Mirza Teletovic for Mozgov.
Teletovic’s contract has him making a little over $9 million over the next three years, a reasonable salary for a player who averaged 21.7 points per game during his final season in Spain.
The 6’9”, 255-lb Bosnian power forward has tremendous upside. He possesses great size and an excellent perimeter game. He also fills a need for the Nuggets, which lack depth at power forward.
Mozgov was drafted by the Knicks in 2010 after Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov passed on his fellow countryman. Mozgov was then traded to the Nuggets in the blockbuster deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York.
Prokhorov’s passing on Mozgov has yet to haunt the Nets, but it could if he were dealt to the Miami Heat, the only other obvious suitor.