The Denver Nuggets have a rare commodity in Nikola Jokic available to them. Would might it take to trade him away?
No one player in the NBA is completely untouchable. The Denver Nuggets have already committed to a gigantic long term extension with Jokic that leaves him among the 30 highest paid players in the league. But while the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement makes it unlikely for players to move around in free agency on larger exorbitant contracts, trades are much easier to complete.
In trading Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets would have to be blown away with an offer they cannot refuse. Because Jokic is in the prime of his career with three more years left on his current deal, a truly desperate team with boatloads of draft picks and young talent would be a sufficient haul for the Serbian superstar.
The New York Knicks jump to mind first. Still looking for their first championship since 1973, the Knicks remain among the biggest disappointments year in and year out and continue to be one of the league’s most consistent basement dwellers.
The Knicks have already made a similar type of trade involving Kristaps Porzingis, in which they shockingly parted ways with a transcendent talent with multiple years left on his deal. The Knicks might be in a big enough need of a proven star that they would consider selling the farm for a player such as Jokic.
At least two first round picks, Frank Ntilikina, R.J. Barrett, and at least two larger salaries on the roster from the team’s free agent signing from last offseason. Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, Julius Randle, and Elfrid Payton would be names to consider in the deal as salary matching power. Randle in particular would be an interesting pickup for the Nuggets in trying to replace the scoring production in the front court.
On its surface, the deal looks terrible for Denver, and it is true that virtually any move involving Jokic would set the team back. But adding two developing young players along with several high draft picks would push the Nuggets back on a path they could become excited about.
Another potential option would be the Miami Heat. The Nuggets would be well served to trade Jokic out of the western conference, so as to not have to improve a frequent foe for years to come. The Heat could be extremely eager to pursue a trade for Jokic, as pairing him with Jimmy Butler would put them in championship contention immediately.
Kelly Olynyk would have to be involved in the deal, as his somewhat enlarged salary would help in making the numbers line up properly. Olynyk is also a little bit better than his reputation appears to make him out to be, as evidenced by his 43 percent clip from three point range this season exhibited.
Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo, and Derrick Jones Jr. could all be had in a deal for Jokic. The Nuggets, stuck in an incredibly crowded western conference, shouldn’t stiff arm every single potential offer for Jokic or any of their players. One never knows when a player, even one who appears to be as content as Jokic, could become disgruntled and want out of town.