The Nuggets are catching fire at just the right time, or maybe at just the wrong time.
With the team’s recent success, winning 13 of the 15 previous games, many may wonder if it would be wise to make a trade and screw up a good thing. But that was the same mentality the Nuggets’ brass had this offseason, not making any major changes and keeping pretty much the same squad together.
However, the recent success could also be a smoke screen, as Denver has played 10 of its previous 15 games at home and now the squad will have to face playoff teams in the next six games – including road games at Utah, L.A. Lakers and Cleveland.
So if the Nuggets are to make a trade, what will they trade for and who would they deal?
If you ask the fans, the Nuggets need another big man and judging by the stats Denver needs helps on the glass. But honestly, if the Nuggets do make a trade it should be to improve the bench. While other playoff teams can go 10 to 11 deep, Denver struggles outside of its top nine players and especially in the front court. A trade may also help just by subtraction because it is no secret that there is a sign of a minor mutiny on the Nuggets bench.
It is no secret that coach George Karl doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Renaldo Balkman and JR Smith. The duo sit at the end of the bench, fraternize with the crowd while their teammates are preparing for the game and they very rarely talk to Karl in games or at practices.
While JR is too valuable sixth man for the Nuggets trade, Balkman is a likely trading chip. He hasn’t seen the basketball court since November. And while he has worn out his welcome in Denver, his energy, rebounding and defense would help a playoff team – especially a team in the Eastern Conference – and he also has a cap friendly contract (making $1.675 a year over the next three years). He could be the second-coming of Dennis Rodman if he joins Detroit or Chicago.
Another player that could be in some trade talks is Malik Allen, who is a favorite of Karl’s due to his veteran leadership and being a nice locker room player. But really what does mean when a player is good in the locker room? I take it as he isn’t good enough to play on the court. However, Allen has a nice $1.3 million expiring contract. And while Allen has played good most of the time when he is on the court, he isn’t always ready to play. In three of the the 24 games he has played in he has had at least two turnovers, which isn’t so bad except he has only eclipsed 20 minutes twice this season. Not quite what you want from your fourth big man. Allen would be a nice role player for Miami (he played there from 2001-04) or Boston.
Joey Graham also has a very favorable contract, with a year worth of the veteran minimum. He hasn’t quite been the player were hoping for when the Nuggets signed him this offseason. He was suppose to be another Dahntay Jones and was stepping into Linas Kleiza’s old role. However, Graham was recently benched due to his defensive intensity and he doesn’t have a lot of range on his jump shot. He has had a few good games replacing the injured Carmelo Anthony in the offense, but at the same time he has lacked consistency – scoring in double-digits three times this season. A team like New Jersey or New York could trade for him and cut his salary.
Johan Petro may also be a nice trading chip, he has good size and is only 24 years old. However, he hasn’t quite made it into Karl’s rotation and this year has posted career lows in every category. Petro would be a nice pickup for a team in the rebounding mode with also a veteran minimum contract.