That’s right. The NBA offseason is officially underway and the Denver Nuggets are making moves. After much deliberation regarding whether or not the franchise would trade away their longest-tenured player, Will Barton, and mainstay point guard, Monte Morris. It appears as though both are on the move in a deal with the Washington Wizards.
As first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, and later confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As of Wednesday morning, the Denver Nuggets are finalizing a deal that sends both Morris and Barton to Washington in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith.
At the time of writing, there is no draft compensation included for either team, meaning that it’s a straight up trade of Barton and Morris for Smith and Caldwell-Pope.
For Denver, they will be receiving a proven 3-and-D player in KCP, who’s made over 36 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and averaged over a steal per game throughout his NBA career. As well as Ish Smith, who, assuming he remains a Nugget, will have set a new NBA record as the most travelled player in league history. Preparing to suit up for his 13th NBA franchise in as many years.
Meanwhile, the Wizards will receive Will Barton, who’s coming off a solid 2022-23 campaign as Denver’s third-leading scorer, averaging 14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. As well as Monte Morris, who posted 12.6 points, and 4.4 assists across 75 games, respectfully. Widely regarded as one of the more reliable young point guards in the league.
Both of whom have the tools to make an immediate impact in Washington. With Barton providing valuable minutes as Bradley Beal’s primary backup, or filling KCP’s spot in the starting rotation. While Morris could be the consistent floor general the Wizards have been searching for to pair up with Beal in the backcourt. At least until their newest draftee, Johnny Davis, is prepared to step in.
At first glance, it might seem like the Denver Nuggets lost in this trade, giving up two key cogs in the rotation in exchange for KCP and an aging back up point guard. Although, I believe this move provides Denver with a stronger unit defensively as well as more financial flexibility moving forward. It’s also apparently been in the works for awhile now, as reported by ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
It’s no secret that this one could be tough for some Nuggets fans to swallow. On the one hand, they got their man in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who Twitter heads and sports media “pundits” have being pointing to as Denver’s solution for some time now.
On the other hand, they also gave up Monte Morris, who was one of the most beloved players on the Nuggets roster, both in the locker room and by the fans. Working his way up through the G League as a late second-round pick to becoming one of the more valued back up point guards in the association.
As well as Will Barton, who maybe never quite lived up to his $30-million valuation but was still the longest tenured Nugget and had been with the organization through all the highs and lows.
Nevertheless, it’s a move that could very well end up paying off for both franchises.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is in the final season of his three-year $39-million contract and he’s an exceptional fit for the Denver Nuggets. As a stingy defender who can stay locked in on the opposing team’s best guard or wing player, and a consistent deep threat who can shoot the ball at a high clip from range. Making over 39 percent of his three-point shots last season on 5.3 attempts per game.
The cost of giving up Morris and Barton is that the Denver Nuggets will be without two of their better ball handlers and playmakers. Meaning that these are two areas the team will need to prioritize in free agency this summer.
On the plus side, the team will be receiving a boost in defense and perimeter shooting, which were Denver’s two biggest areas of need going into the offseason. Making it clear that the Nuggets are all in on defense and that the team’s freshly minted GM, Calvin Booth, has a new philosophy on how to run things. Ridding themselves of familiar faces in exchange for better fits schematically.
Only time will tell how this trade works out for both teams, but one thing’s for sure; the NBA’s second season (the offseason) has officially begun.