Denver Nuggets' 2014 Trade Deadline Shopping List
The Denver Nuggets are in need of two types of trades—one that lands them a backup point guard and another that scores them a star in the post.
These are necessary for different reasons.
With the ACL tear to Nate Robinson and Andre Miller still not playing because of his dispute with head coach Brian Shaw, Denver must have someone back up Ty Lawson at point guard. Randy Foye has done a solid job sliding over to the 1 in Lawson's absence, but he should primarily be at the 2 for his long-distance shooting off the pass.
The Nuggets have six big men if you include the injured JaVale McGee, who could miss the rest of the season, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. However, none of them are currently All-Star caliber or provide the right attributes to fit in an inside-out offense that Shaw will want to run down the road.
Finding a reserve point guard will be significantly easier with their salary situation.
The Nuggets have three players making a minimum of eight figures annually through at least the 2015-16 season. Two of those guys are McGee and Danilo Gallinari, and Gallinari has already been ruled out for the rest of the season after having reconstructive surgery on his ACL, according to Nuggets.com.
This limits their options of landing a big name, a problem that should be addressed in the offseason.
Denver's primary concern before the trade deadline is moving Miller and getting a reserve point guard. Miller is healthy, has a few more seasons left in him at age 37 and can be an effective backup on most teams, but he's wasting Denver's roster space at this point.
The Nuggets have been flirting with the .500 mark all season and currently hold a 24-23 record. That puts the franchise 3.5 games behind the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
Considering that there are at least 12 teams in the West with a legitimate chance at making the playoffs, the Nuggets must make a move to increase their chances at extending their postseason appearance streak to 11 straight years.
All contract information is from Basketball Insiders unless noted otherwise.
Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly should be looking to make a simple yet smart swap of backup point guards with the Charlotte Bobcats. Kemba Walker is back from his ankle injury, and Ramon Sessions is back to the bench.
Miller and Sessions have similar contracts, with each making $5 million this season. While Sessions is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, Miller will make $4.625 million next year, but only $2 million of that is guaranteed, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
The Bobcats only run 95.3 possessions per game, which is 21st in the NBA, per John Hollinger's stats on ESPN.com. The Nuggets average the fourth most at 99.5, but that number has continued to increase since Shaw has allowed his team to play at a faster pace in the last month.
With Sessions in his seventh season and having played at least 21 minutes each year on five different teams, he could easily fulfill Robinson's playing time in an up-tempo system. Sessions may not catch fire like Robinson or have the same motor, but he's averaging 10.6 points and 3.6 assists in 23.8 minutes on the year.
Furthermore, Sessions is making 79.1 percent of his 4.5 free-throw attempts. Given that the Nuggets are shooting a 25th-best 73.1 percent and Lawson is the only Denver player that takes more than four attempts per game, he would certainly help at the line.
For the Bobcats, a team that's in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, they would benefit from a veteran like Miller. He has playoff experience with three different teams, can post up against smaller point guards and has a 3.0 assist-to-turnover ratio on the year.
Essentially, the Nuggets get their guy to take over for Robinson, and there isn't a financial commitment for the future. The Bobcats get their distributor and solid decision-maker in terms of winning close games down the stretch.
As Wojnarowski points out, the Sacramento Kings have shared a high interest in acquiring Miller from the Nuggets. Similar to what Miller could do for Walker in Charlotte, he could have a positive impact on Isaiah Thomas in Sacramento.
Jimmer Fredette, who has struggled finding a consistent spot in the Kings' primary rotation, would be a solid fit in Denver. In fact, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, there have already been talks between the two franchises about exchanging point guards and the Nuggets getting a future second-round pick.
With Robinson out and Jordan Hamilton no longer part of the rotation, Evan Fournier is really the only three-point shooter on the Nuggets bench. Sure, Quincy Miller can make one here and there, but that's not really his strength.
Fredette's 5.8 points and 1.6 assists this season aren't appealing, but he's only playing 11.4 minutes. What is attractive is his 47.6 three-point percentage and his 93.3 free-throw percentage.
When Fredette has been given extended minutes, he's been streaky, but he's capable of big nights. He's used to playing at a fast pace, has incredible range and can score off the pass or the dribble.
He would be a nice replacement for Robinson's scoring.
Here's the third and final possibility of doing a simple switch in point guards—Andre Miller for J.J. Barea.
Barea has been respectable off the bench in his eight-year career with 8.3 points and 3.4 assists in 19 minutes. He would bring some speed to the Nuggets bench and is a decent scorer off penetration.
At the same time, he'll provide the necessary tools for getting the other guys involved.
With his experience playing a full-court game, he'll be able to find Fournier on the wing for a three or a trailing Timofey Mozgov for the slam. There's also his place to run pick-and-pop with Darrell Arthur.
Meanwhile, Miller could help the Minnesota Timberwolves' bench with his ability to find mismatches. They have a lot of depth on the roster but are in need of someone to connect the dots and get more consistency out of guys like Chase Budinger, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Dante Cunningham.
Combining Miller with Ricky Rubio, who is already one of the best passers in the game, would make a great one-two punch.
Beno Udrih has been in and out of the New York Knicks' rotation for one reason or another, but with the Knicks backcourt now healthy, it's tough for Udrih to get much playing time.
What the Knicks need is some frontcourt help. Andrea Bargnani is out for the season, Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire always seem to be battling injuries and none of New York's big men can stretch the floor.
While neither team would be making much of a splash in this hypothetical scenario, Denver could send Anthony Randolph for Udrih and Toure Murry (for salary reasons).
Udrih is only posting 5.6 points and 3.5 assists in 19 minutes. Then again, it's hard to have great numbers when your role changes constantly and the ball is in Carmelo Anthony's or J.R. Smith's hands most of the time.
In the 27 games he played with the Orlando Magic during the 2012-13 season, Udrih recorded 10.2 points and 6.1 assists in 27.3 minutes. He's fairly average in most areas and doesn't need to play more than 15 minutes each night, but he can at least perform in the pick-and-roll, shoot the three and play reasonable defense.
Meanwhile, the Knicks would have a valid option to turn to off the bench.
Randolph can bring energy off the bench, rebound and grab a lot of loose balls, but he's also been improving on his outside shot. This would help Melo get easier scoring opportunities in the post.
This may seem like a minor and somewhat meaningless trade, but it would help both franchises with their current situations.
Darren Collison has done an admirable job filling in for Chris Paul the past month. But according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said Paul could return to action on Sunday.
Therefore, the Nuggets could talk to the Clippers about acquiring Collison and Jared Dudley for Miller and Hamilton. Dudley would need to be included mainly for the matching salaries.
As we've learned recently, Collison is an efficient player. In January, he posted 14.4 points on 53.7 percent shooting while dishing out 6.1 assists and forcing 1.6 steals.
With those contributions, Collison has earned a 17.3 player-efficiency rating on the year.
While he wouldn't play 31.2 minutes for the Nuggets, that's the kind of energy and production Denver needs for a run at the playoffs.
For the Clippers, while Collison usually comes in for Paul when he needs a rest, Miller might be a better fit.
The Clippers usually get a lot of their bench scoring from Jamal Crawford, but they don't get a lot of overall production from it. Miller's ability to post up guards and run half-court sets would improve that.
But more importantly, Miller would be going to Lob City. As Nuggets fans know having watched him with McGee and Kenneth Faried, Miller is one of the best at alley-oop passes.
As for Hamilton, he would replace Dudley as the backup small forward and provide more three-point shooting and defense.