With the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 8 fast approaching, the Nuggets should look to make a few minor moves to improve. The Nuggets have fallen to the No. 8 seed in the West, and though the return of veteran forward Paul Millsap will definitely provide a spark, there are a few potential trade moves the team could make to ensure they don’t fall out of playoff contention for the fifth straight year.
Let’s first take a look at the players on the current roster that could have some considerable trade value on the market. Right now, the Nuggets’ three best trading chips are Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, and Jamal Murray. This is the young core of the team, and are most likely untouchable, unless a potential all-star is on the table. If we put away any debate on a potential blockbuster trade involving one of these three players, the Nuggets are not left with much else to offer. However, there are two players that the Nuggets should consider moving: Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay.
Faried is somewhat the obvious choice. The Manimal’s minutes have decreased exponentially since Michael Malone took over coaching duties, and he’s currently averaging career lows in minutes (14.9), points (6.1), and rebounds (4.8). Now, personally, I absolutely love Faried. His high-energy, high-effort style of play is rare in today’s NBA. It’s no secret, however, that Faried is at the bottom of Malone’s power forward totem pole. With the emerging Trey Lyles and veteran Mason Plumlee playing the majority of the minutes at the four, Faried often times looks lost on the Denver sideline. And when Millsap returns from injury, that’s not going to change anytime soon.
With that said, Faried definitely still has some value left on the trade market. His rebounding production and tenacity will certainly attract some teams. Will the Nuggets get a superstar in return? No, but as long as he remains on the bench, the team should look to unload him while he still has some worth.
Mudiay, on the other hand, is the tougher one to move on from. The former No. 7 overall pick has disappointed mightily in his early career in Denver, and it seems the team has already lost any hope of him getting any better. His minutes and production has diminished. In just 11 minutes in Monday night’s 104-101 win over the Trailblazers, Mudiay scored just one point on 0-4 shooting. At just 21 years old, Mudiay is dangerously close to being labeled a bust, and the Nuggets should look to move him before that label is cemented in stone.
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While Faried and Mudiay are unlikely to gain the Nuggets a star, they could easily help Denver snag that veteran backup point guard its been looking for. Perhaps Sacramento’s George Hill, a player the Nuggets pursued in free agency, could be a target. A package of Mudiay and Faried could be enough, but the Kings may want one of those young core players involved as well, which could derail talks.
Maybe the Nuggets will decide to hunt for some smaller game instead. No matter what they decide before the deadline, it would be wise to attempt to get rid of the two players that the team has already seemed to have written off.