This offseason could see an inordinate amount of big name players in new landing spots, mostly via free agency, but there is always a trade or two that sparks interest.
In this scenario, the Nuggets are not targeting a superstar but are definitely getting in on the action. Although the moves are not quite as “high profile”, the Nuggets would be accomplishing a few things.
Pacers receive: Will Barton, Thaddeus Young, Nuggets ’20 first round pick
Bulls receive: Myles Turner
Nuggets receive: Lauri Markkanen, Doug McDermott
Losing Will Barton would be a sad departure for fans, but this is the move the front office needs to make to create room for Michael Porter Jr. to get the time he needs to develop. Barton has been anything but consistent since recovering from his hip injury last season and coach Mike Malone appears a bit hesitant to give MPJ the keys.
Barton would be sorely missed, but Doug McDermott would be able to fit in well with a second unit that needs some offensive punch, especially behind the 3-point line. On nights where Torrey Craig and Monte Morris are struggling to hit from range, McDermott could offer a huge pick-me-up.
Then there is the addition of Lauri Markkanen. Jerami Grant appears to be the power forward of the future, but how realistic is that? Grant will likely be returning in the 2020-2021 season as he has a player option but becomes a RFA the following year. Grant has been very good in his role with the Nuggets but will be tested as Millsap’s contract expires in the upcoming year.
Markkanen has trended downward since his great rookie campaign, suffered a pelvis injury, and there are whispers he has generally been unhappy with his situation with the Bulls. With former Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas taking over as the Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, we could see him willing to do business his former colleagues. At 22-years-old, Markkanen could be a steal and create a lot of synergy if placed in a lineup with Nikola Jokic.
Markkanen is a very good athlete and can finish at the rim through contact. He’s a great shooter and has the ability score off of the pick and roll as well as having the ability to shoot from anywhere on the court. The Nuggets would have to give up the 1st round pick they received in the Hernangomez/Beasley trade but that would equate to, what would likely be, a pick in the 25 to 30 range. Snagging these two pieces would be well worth the cost.
Indiana’s player yield wouldn’t be ideal but the scoring punch of Barton and a first rounder on top of it could be enticing enough to get the deal done. They would be building great draft capital, either selecting a young talent or putting a package together in hopes of obtaining a superstar caliber player.
Barton and Young are talented players that, if moved, could contribute on a playoff team searching for a piece to put them over the top. Also, this clears space for Domantas Sabonis to operate down low and allow for the Pacers to find a more complementary piece to fit along side their All Star.
Chicago would be getting a great deal obtaining one of the more all-around skilled bigs in the NBA. Turner can shoot beyond the arc, score in the paint, rebound, and is a fierce rim protector. Karnisovas would be losing a core player in Markkanen, but the book-ends of Zach Lavine and Myles Turner for would give this long struggling team a very good foundation to build from.
The Nuggets today still feel a step or two away from being a real championship contender. Even if Markkanen and McDermott don’t work out, the vacancy in the lineup to give Michael Porter Jr. some real estate with the starters could be the catalyst that brings the Nuggets to the next level. This trade has the potential to elevate them to that place.