Should the Denver Nuggets trade for one of Indiana’s big names?
Indiana has been trialling a twin towers lineup since the Paul George trade that sees the defensive Turner play alongside the offensive Sabonis. In theory, the two should complement each other and paper over the others’ weaknesses but the guard-dominant NBA, the Pacers haven’t been able to excel with the pairing.
That’s not to say the two can’t play together, but if Indiana has serious championship aspirations, it’s looking like the two should be on different teams.
There’s a world in which the two spread their wings in a new situation where there’s only one traditional big man and more space to work with but since the Nuggets have the best center in the league, there’s little-to-no incentive for a trade with these two.
As Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer wrote recently:
"“The leap Turner has made this season has changed the dynamic between the two big men. Turner is as efficient as Sabonis for the first time in their careers. Per NBA Advanced Stats, he has been even better when he plays without his usual frontcourt partner.”"
But no matter how good either of them get in a new situation, they won’t be able to truly show off their arsenal while Nikola Jokic is holding down the center spot.
That brings us to the other big name: Caris LeVert. The Nuggets need wing scoring in a bad way right now with MPJ and Murray sidelined and Will Barton’s inconsistency makes it hard to lean on him.
LeVert has also struggled shooting the ball this season, averaging 14.9 points while shooting 42 percent from the floor and 27 percent from behind the arc. Yuck.
The theory of a trade here for Denver would be to give the former Michigan wing a change of scenery. He’d have to create less with the ball in his hands when playing next to Jokic but could easily take the reigns when the Serbian sits.
He’d essentially be playing the exact same role that Barton is right now and their salaries are similar enough for a straight swap to work. In this deal, Denver gets the player with the higher upside in LeVert and Indiana gets a first-round pick for taking on Barton and his extension.
Because of his extension this past offseason, the deal would have to happen after 15 Dec. 2021.
The upgrade from Barton to LeVert is questionable. Both have had up-and-down seasons and if the Nuggets want to upgrade the Barton slot, they might be better off looking elsewhere.
Since Malcolm Brogdon signed an extension on top of his existing contract before the start of the season, he is ineligible to be traded for the rest of the campaign.