The Denver Nuggets weren’t expected to compete for a playoff spot entering the 2016-17 NBA Season, but due to the weakness of the Western Conference, Mike Malone’s squad currently holds the No. 8 seed out West with a 24-30 record.
In an attempt to strengthen their playoff positioning, the Nuggets completed a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday in which center Mason Plumlee went from Portland to Denver along with a 2018 second-round pick in exchange for fellow big man Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round pick.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) February 12, 2017
Denver had been shopping Nurkic for a while now as he had fallen out of Malone’s regular rotation and general manager Tim Connelly finally found a deal that he liked with the addition of Plumlee. Nurkic had only appeared in 45 of the Nuggets’ 54 games this season and was averaging 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game at the time of the trade.
Plumlee, on the other hand, is in the midst of the best season of his career as he’s averaged 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game for the Blazers in 28.1 minutes per game this season. Mason will join forces with up-and-coming star Nikola Jokic, Kenneth Faried, and Darrell Arthur to form one of the deepest and most formidable frontcourts in the NBA.
According to ESPN‘s Marc Stein, the Nuggets’ trade for Plumlee could be just the tip of the iceberg as the team is also considering moving small forward Danilo Gallinari before the February 23 trade deadline. Gallinari has a player option for the 2017-18 season which means this could certainly be his last year in Denver if he chooses to opt out.
Stein mentions in his report that the Nuggets “don’t plan to spend big on the Italian” if he were to choose not to opt-in to the final year of his deal. Denver is loaded with players that can play on the wing such as Wilson Chandler, Gary Harris, and Jamal Murray which gives them plenty of flexibility to move on from Gallinari.
Marc Stein also adds that the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors are the two teams most closely monitoring Danilo Gallinari’s availability ahead of the trade deadline.
— Hoops Rumors (@HoopsRumors) February 13, 2017
The Clippers have been desperate for some help on the wing for a few years now and adding someone like Gallinari would fit perfectly in Doc Rivers’ system. The Italian forward is knocking down the three-point shot at a 38.1 percent rate in 2016-17 and would team up with the likes of J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford to spread the floor for Chris Paul to penetrate and kick.
Gallinari also moves well without the ball and isn’t a ball dominant player which fits perfectly in with the Clippers who should be getting Paul back from a torn ligament in his thumb in the near future.
As for the Raptors, Dwane Casey and company are looking for someone who can come in and help shoulder the scoring load beside star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The two guards combine to average 50.9 of the Raptors’ 109.2 points per game as center Jonas Valanciunas is the team’s third-leading scorer at just 12.3 points per game.
— theScore (@theScore) February 12, 2017
The Toronto Raptors also sit in a three-way tie for 14th in the NBA with just 9.3 threes made per game and Gallinari would certainly help that number as he’s hitting 1.8 threes per contest during the 2016-17 season.
Which team do you think Danilo Gallinari fits best with: The Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, or Los Angeles Clippers? Let us know in the comments section.
[Featured Image by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]