Hypothetical Trade Packages to Land a Legit Star for Denver Nuggets

Nick Juskewycz@@NickJuskewyczContributor IIIMay 24, 2013

Hypothetical Trade Packages to Land a Legit Star for Denver Nuggets

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    The Denver Nuggets are comprised of a deep arsenal of good players, but what could this team look like next year if it were to make a trade for a proven star?

    Giving up on the starless concept could be a mistake considering that it was only two-and-a-half years ago that the Nuggets made the gigantic trade with the New York Knicks that sent Carmelo Anthony to Madison Square Garden. However, after another first-round exit in the playoffs and a long offseason coming up, it's entertaining to ponder the thought.

    A lot of Denver's options this summer and what its game plan ends up being will be heavily affected by Andre Iguodala, who will decide whether or not he is going to return to the Rocky Mountains. Iggy has a player option of $15,904,750 for the 2013-14 season, and point guard Ty Lawson has made it clear he wants his shooting guard back (per Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post).

    For the sake of bringing in a star to support Lawson and perhaps encourage Iguodala to stay, we'll keep those two off the trading market. Also, since it's essentially near impossible to trade for a franchise superstar like LeBron James or Kevin Durant, we'll keep those names out as well.

    So while the Nuggets should have a busy offseason in the draft and free agency, there are some potential trade packages to consider. 

    (All salary information is via hoopshype.com)

Kevin Love for JaVale McGee and Wilson Chandler

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    2013-14 Salaries

    Kevin Love: $14,693,906

    JaVale McGee: $10,750,000
    Wilson Chandler: $6,344,164 

    There are two things the Nuggets don't have with their big men: a dominant player offensively in the half court and someone who can hit shots from outside the paint. Between Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee and Kosta Koufos, the three post players combined for 25 percent (12-of-48) from outside 16 feet last season.

    Kevin Love provides both of these qualities. The concern about Love is his health with his right hand (via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today) and his left knee (per Matt Moore of CBS Sports) that caused him to miss 64 games last season.

    While those doubts are legitimate, his upside is tremendous. Love averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds in 2011-12 while shooting 37.2 percent from three and 82.4 percent from the line. In 2010-11, he posted 20.2 points and 15.2 boards while making 41.7 percent of his three-pointers and connecting on 85 percent of his free throws.

    The Nuggets have an up-tempo style, but they can't completely rely on that and the guards to carry most of the load in the half court. Someone like Love can bring balance and get easier baskets.

    To make this trade work, Denver would have to give up more than one player to match Love's salary and production. JaVale McGee was a very important piece to Denver's puzzle last year with his motor and playmaking ability.

    Yet, to get someone like Love, the Nuggets would have to give up someone like McGee and the Timberwolves need a guy to bring some excitement back to Minnesota. 

    Still, Love for McGee doesn't work because Love is a better overall player. By throwing Wilson Chandler into the mix, it's more even.

    The Nuggets would be giving up their sixth man or a potential starter, but this is an area that can be found in free agency or possibly the NBA draft. Also, Chandler has only played in 51 regular-season games the last two years combined due to injuries, which helps balance the risk factor in the trade.

    If trading McGee or Chandler is a red flag to you, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post suggests that Denver should trade Danilo Gallinari and Kosta Koufos for Love.

    If that option is available, that's a better deal for the Nuggets, but I don't think Minnesota would take it. Even though Koufos started 81 games for Denver last year, his skill set is limited and his value took a hit in the playoffs against Golden State. McGee is a much better complement to Nikola Pekovic if he returns to Minnesota.

    The starting lineup of Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and Kevin Love sounds pretty sweet.

Luol Deng for Danilo Gallinari

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    2013-14 Salaries

    Luol Deng: $14,312,125

    Danilo Gallinari: $10,146,925

    This trade is quite simple. It's two small forwards where one team needs more defense and the other needs more offense. 

    Both players had very similar numbers last season, but Deng would bring the Nuggets a defender on the perimeter and inside. Gallinari would give Chicago a little more of a versatile attack from the perimeter while providing more youth and cap space that the Bulls desperately need next year (Chicago currently has four players making at least $12 million in 2013-14).

    The numbers make sense, but can Deng play on the fast break? These highlights suggest he can and even though the Bulls aren't an up-tempo team, he is used to playing with a speedy point guard in Derrick Rose. There's no reason why he can't excel with Lawson.

    Deng might not be a superstar, but he has been to the All-Star Game the last two years. The Nuggets haven't sent any since Carmelo Anthony in 2011, just before he was traded to New York.

Kevin Garnett for Wilson Chandler and Kosta Koufos

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    2013-14 Salaries

    Kevin Garnett: $11,532,468

    Wilson Chandler: $6,344,164
    Kosta Koufos: $3,000,000  

    The Nuggets can gain championship experience and the Celtics can add youth. 

    As Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe points out, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce could be done in Boston. Sure, Garnett may retire, but if he still wants to play like the competitor he is, he's worth acquiring.

    Since Denver is trying to win its first championship and is struggling to get past the first round, it needs a player that knows how to get it done when it matters most.

    Yes, he's 37 years old and isn't a guy that runs the floor. However, KG is great in the half court from the high block and the post, he's still a solid rebounder and plays with an edge.

    Garnett also posted 14.8 points per game last season and if he started at center, he would complement Faried beautifully with their different styles of play.

    The Celtics need to get younger. Koufos would do well in Boston's slower-paced game and Chandler would bring more firepower both inside and outside to help Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green.

Anderson Varejao and C.J. Miles for JaVale McGee and Andre Miller

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    2013-14 Salaries

    Anderson Varejao: $9,100,000
    C.J. Miles: $2,225,000 (team option)

    JaVale McGee: $10,750,000
    Andre Miller: $5,000,000 

    There is a lot of risk to this move, but there is a significant upside. While Anderson Varejao has only played 81 games the last three years combined because of injuries, he can be a scoring and rebounding machine (averaged 14.1 points and 14.4 rebounds last year).

    Varejao is also one of those guys that can play with the kind of energy that Faried brings. They may not have the same kind of athleticism, but having two guys that can rebound with their kind of motor would be deadly in an up-tempo system.

    Another thing the Nuggets need is an outside shooter. That's where C.J. Miles comes in, as he really lit it up from behind the arc the last three months of 2012-13. Cleveland already has a great variety of shooters and if the Cavs pick up the $2.25 million option for next year, he could be signed and traded to address their needs.

    What are those needs? Defense and experience.

    With the Cavs hiring Mike Brown again as their head coach, they are focusing on defense and JaVale McGee could protect the rim for them. Cleveland has also been one of the youngest teams in the league with all its draft picks the last two seasons, and getting someone like Andre Miller backing up Kyrie Irving would help the Cavs out with his leadership.

    It'd certainly be a risk trading McGee and Miller, but if the Nuggets got Varejao for nearly a whole season, it'd be worth it.

Dirk Nowitzki for Danilo Gallinari, Andre Miller and Kosta Koufos

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    2013-14 Salaries

    Dirk Nowitzki: $22,721,381

    Danilo Gallinari: $10,146,925
    Andre Miller: $5,000,000
    Kosta Koufos: $3,000,000

    According to ESPN.com, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made it clear in January that he wasn't going to trade his star player Dirk Nowitzki. 

    However, since Dallas has zero players that have guaranteed contracts in 2014-15, Cuban may need to exercise all of his options to rebuild his franchise. That includes trading the guy who led the Mavericks in defeating the Miami Heat for an NBA title.

    Nowitzki has an enormous salary next year, but if the Nuggets wanted to go for the home run, this would be it. Denver would have to send its small forward, backup point guard and one of its centers, but think about the flexibility and star power it would have.

    With Lawson and Iguodala at the two guards, between Nowitzki, Chandler, Faried and McGee, the Nuggets could create massive matchup problems for opponents. Add a potentially rising Evan Fournier and the other possibilities in free agency or the draft, and this would be an extremely potent team.

    Dirk is 34 years old and he would play around 30 minutes per game with the fast tempo. Yet, despite his age, he has played with quick Dallas teams in the past, has a polished inside game (creative post moves and the fadeaway), can get to the line while shooting a high percentage (87.7 percent for his career) and still nails the three (41.4 percent last year).