WE always get caught up in the journey. Start at the bottom, strike gold with your draft picks, sign the right free agents and slowly but surely work your way up the standings. The Denver Nuggets never really bottomed out and it seems like yesterday that Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari were leading the charge against the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. A vastly different squad is on the cusp of returning to the postseason now and even though a bright future is on offer, the temptation to go all in on winning now is real.
IF you like what you read be sure to check out more SportsbyFry articles by hitting this link. Make sure you keep up to date with the latest NBA articles and follow my fan pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to never miss a minute of the action!
IT comes as no surprise that the Nuggets have made a climb up the standings this year. We were expecting growth from their younger players that would translate into a more aesthetically pleasing win/loss collum, and that was even before they signed Paul Millsap. After failed pursuits of free agents in years past, they finally landed a big fish to support their promising roster.
THAT same promising roster has been formed with the right mix of smart draft picks and solid veterans that has Denver at 16-13 even though Jokic and Millsap have been injured for a big chunk of time. So with all this hope and excitement around the franchise why should they go in on winning now? Especially given the fact that the Warriors seem to have a chokehold on the rest of the West.
Image from denverstiffs.com
DENVER finds themselves in the rare position where they can make a trade and still keep the majority of their core intact. Given the assets, they have in the form of young players, expiring contracts and draft picks then a team looking to fast forward their rebuild may be tempted to bite. Since the season began, I’ve wanted to see Mike Conley in a Nuggets uniform. Imagine if Denver could roll out a starting lineup of Conley/Harris/Barton/Millsap/Jokic. Damn.
SOMETHING like this with a few picks from Denver’s standpoint should get it done. Memphis has no reason to try and win now, so getting young players and picks is always a good recipe to be successful in the future. If the Nuggets have to give up a second-round pick or two to convince the Grizzlies to part ways with their All-Star point guard too there is no way they should even hesitate.
IF Conley isn’t on the table and they don’t fear Nuggets fans there is another trade that can be made. That is if OKC continues to trend down the toilet. It’s no secret that Paul George is probably going to don Lakers gold next season, but if he can find a suitable situation outside of LA I still think there is a chance that he can sign elsewhere, or after a trade, a chance to even extend somewhere.
PLUS some draft picks and the Nuggets are all of a sudden an entirely different beast. The Thunder need depth and Denver getting another superstar to join their core just might make them a legitimate threat if they can click ASAP. It’s a scary prospect of having Paul George join their current lineup.
NOW all of these moves and trade scenarios are depending on the opposition accepting a deal that doesn’t involve Jamal Murray. Already in year two, he is showing flashes of being their full-time starter at point guard and a multiple All-Star in the future. This win-now-move relies on keeping their core intact of Millsap, Jokic, Harris and Murray and the last two are the most likely to be demanded in negotiations. Others like Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez can be better with more minutes so it wouldn’t be terrible if they had to sacrifice Barton, Faried, Chandler and Mudiay or even all of them to get a deal done.
AS much as this move is to make them more of a threat right now it can also benefit their long-term winning chances too. Adding another All-Star calibre talent to a team no matter how many picks and role players they have to sacrifice may just be worth it for them to emerge as the future kings of the Western Conference once Golden State inevitably declines.
AFTER spending about 700 words writing about the potential franchise-altering move for the Nuggets I still sit at a crossroads as to whether it’s a great idea or not. For one, there is a real chance that they already have enough talent to let their team grow naturally and in time they will be the top of the West. No. 2, this whole argument is dependant on them being able to pry a star away from another team. Finally, there’s no reason why Mudiay (who has been dumped on after Harris and Murray have overtaken him on the depth chart) can’t take the leap and become a very, very good player in another few seasons, or even this year.
LET’S quickly look at the 76ers season so far. They have gone from being a perennial bottom five team to now being set up for the future. While the Nuggets haven’t made as big a leap they do have their future mapped out and a real chance to become a powerhouse in the league. If the right opportunity presents itself, I think that they should make a move to take them to the next step and figure the rest out later.