Should the Denver Nuggets make a move for Marc Gasol?

Should the Denver Nuggets make a move for Marc Gasol? Marc Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball in the game on 8 Feb. 2021. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Should the Denver Nuggets make a move for Marc Gasol? Marc Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball in the game on 8 Feb. 2021. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Marc Gasol is apparently “not a lock” to remain with the LA Lakers. With the Denver Nuggets currently in need of a backup center, should the team make a move for the Spaniard?

With JaVale McGee’s departure in free agency and Paul Millsap looking likely to sign elsewhere, the Nuggets currently have Bol Bol or Zeke Nnaji as their backup big man.

JaMychal Green can play the center spot in flashes but head coach Michael Malone decided not to use him in that way this past season. Only 12 percent of his minutes coming as the nominal center this past season per Basketball-Reference.

If the Denver Nuggets want to start the season with Zeke and Bol as the two bigs off the bench, there might be some holes in the roster. Nnaji played sparingly in his rookie season and failed to make a serious impact in Summer League while Bol played well in Las Vegas, but it was as the main scoring option, not something he’ll be doing in the NBA.

With Marc Gasol, the Denver Nuggets would have an extremely talented big man in the twilight of his career joining a system that definitely fits his playstyle. He’d give Malone a sturdy option behind Nikola Jokic and there might even be some situations where he can play the two together.

What would it take for the Denver Nuggets to trade for Marc Gasol?

As Marc Stein writes in his substack, The Stein Line:

“I’m hearing that Marc Gasol is not a lock to return to the Lakers, even after Gasol said following Spain’s quarterfinal loss to the United States in the Olympics that he intends to play out the final year of the two-year deal he signed with Los Angeles.

“It’s not yet clear if that means Gasol is poised to be set free to play elsewhere in the NBA or if he would ultimately opt to finish his career in his home country like brother Pau.”

The LA Lakers have little wiggle room salary-wise to upgrade their roster after trading for Russell Westbrook. This means that the only new players they can add are on the veteran’s minimum like Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, Carmelo Anthony, and so on.

LA probably doesn’t want to lose a contributor like Gasol for nothing. In the same vein, if Marc doesn’t want to play in a Lakers jersey, they’d be doing him a service by moving him.

The only real move Denver could make to send back talent would be moving on from Nnaji or P.J. Dozier. Both those players are young and project to be contributors in the future, meaning it’d be a win-now move to get the more stable Gasol on the roster.

The Jamal Murray injury hurts here. Maybe Tim Connelly and the Nuggets brass is happy pushing the chips in, moving for Gasol in exchange for a young contrbitor, if they’re competing for a title with a healthy core.

Without Jamal, a potential trade might be a one-year loan before Gasol retires or decides to go elsewhere in free agency. Parting ways with a young contributor hurts too much for one year of Marc.

But this is the kind of trade that Connelly will have to consider next offseason, when the team is healthy and ready to contend. At the moment, Bol and Nnaji will fight it out for backup center minutes, but if neither produce at an acceptable level next season, Denver will have to look elsewhere.