The Denver Nuggets traded Kosta Koufos to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Darrell Arthur and the 55th overall selection in the 2013 NBA draft, which became Joffrey Lauvergne, Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reported.
Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly said the decision to move Koufos was difficult, but they had been seeking a player like Arthur:
"I thought we tried to be aggressive with our pick," Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly said late Thursday night at the Pepsi Center. "It was a difficult evening, trading a key piece from our team and a guy who has a really bright future. But we targeted a certain type of player — he's an elite frontcourt defender and can spread the floor. But it was tough to trade Koufos."
Koufos is coming off his most productive season to date. He averaged eight points and seven rebounds while shooting 58 percent from the floor. The Ohio State product started 81 games after making just 33 starts in his first five seasons.
Despite that noticeable progress, the Nuggets were dealing with a situation where they had two true centers on the roster—JaVale McGee is the other—making Koufos expendable for a forward who could help stretch the floor.
Koufos is likely to return to a reserve role in Memphis playing behind Marc Gasol. His ability to make an impact in limited minutes should at least take some pressure off one of the Grizzlies' talented post players.
In return, the Nuggets receive Arthur and Lauvergne.
Arthur's career path has been the opposite of Koufos'. He started 63 games as a rookie coming out of Kansas but has appeared in the starting lineup just 13 times over the past three seasons. Memphis' crowded frontline has played a role in that.
He's a versatile power forward with good offensive range. His ability to step out and knock down mid-range jumpers will bring a new aspect to the Nuggets offense, which has relied mostly on traditional post players in recent years.
Arthur fits the newer mold of forwards, who are capable of defending and rebounding, but he can also provide some space in the middle by stretching the defense.
Lauvergne is less of a known commodity. As a member of Partizan of the Serbian League, he's illustrated the combination of size and athleticism teams tend to take chances on in the second round. He can score from anywhere and is a solid defender.
The biggest key for him before making the NBA transition is bulking up. To defend other power forwards, he must become stronger in the paint. Otherwise, opponents will take advantage by putting a bigger, stronger player on him who will be able to control the matchup.
Ultimately, the deal is a sign of change for the Nuggets. They traded a natural post player for a couple of more versatile forwards—including one in Arthur ready to make his presence felt immediately—to help add variety on offense.
It's easy to see the reasoning for both teams after a busy draft night.
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