On Wednesday, a major shake up to the Denver Nuggets roster took place. As the team sent highly-touted point guard, Monte Morris, and Mr. Nugget himself, Will Barton, to the Washington Wizards for 3-and-D guard, Katavious Caldwell-Pope, and veteran back up point guard, Ish Smith, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
It was a little surprising to see the Nuggets be willing to move on from Monte Morris in this deal, especially since Morris has been a really solid starter during the last year and a half for Denver following the Jamal Murray ACL tear. However, this is a move that the Nuggets had to make in order to ensure that they fill their need at shooting guard.
It has been rumored for some time now that KCP had been a target for the Nuggets, dating all the way back to last year’s trade deadline. While the Nuggets were able to get their guy, it did come with a price. Since Monte Morris in all likelihood needed to be included in the deal to make a KCP trade happen.
It’s believed that, while Barton had some value, it wasn’t enough to entice the Wizards to make a deal straight up for KCP. If Denver was able to acquire KCP for Barton, and one of the first round picks, I truly believe that they would have done that in a heartbeat. However, it’s become pretty clear now that the Wizards were not interested in any deal unless it involved Monte Morris.
Final thoughts on the KCP trade
My final thoughts on the the trade is it was a good trade for both teams. Did the Nuggets give up too much with Morris and Barton? Maybe. Although, it’s important to note that 3-and-D shooting guards are hard to trade for, and when you do, things often get pretty expensive.
While Monte Morris was incredibly valuable to the Denver Nuggets, as well as other teams around the league, he likely would’ve been penciled in as the back up point guard anyway with the return of Jamal Murray.
So, look at it this way, the Nuggets are getting an upgrade at shooting guard in KCP, who is a plus defender that can guard some of the best opposing guards in the very talented western conference. In exchange for Monte Morris, who is definitely a solid point guard but with the emergence of Bones Hyland, he unfortunately became a guy who Denver was probably going to move on from at some point anyway.
With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Denver Nuggets are getting a guy who can shoot at an efficient rate but also doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands that often to make a play. He also already knows what his role is going to be, which is incredibly important for a championship contender like the Nuggets.
Not only is he a solid shooter, with a career three-point percentage of 36 percent, which is a slight upgrade from Barton’s 35 percent, but he also brings a lot to the table defensively as well. Most importantly, he adds some invaluable championship experience from his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. Which is something every team with title aspirations needs. He’s also the only real two-way shooting guard the Denver Nuggets have had since Gary Harris.
All in all, it’s sad that Denver had to give up Morris and Barton, two guys who have been really important to what the Nuggets have been able to build over the years. However, the Nuggets had to do what was needed to fill a big hole in the backcourt and get this team closer to an NBA championship.
It’s a good deal for both Barton and Morris as well, since Barton will get a fresh start with a new team that could use his scoring ability and Morris gets the chance to start full time without having to look over his shoulder.
How does the KCP trade impact free agency for Denver
With the trade of Caldwell-Pope, the Nuggets have filled a much needed hole at shooting guard. Although, it’s hard to imagine that Denver is done adding pieces to round out the roster.
The Nuggets will have a few options when it comes to the ways they have to improve their roster this summer. One of those options is the $9.1-million trade exception that got bumped up from $8.4-million following the JaMychal Green trade that took place just before the draft. As well as their $6.4 million taxpayer mid-level exception that they can use also.
Outside of that, the Denver Nuggets can add players players by signing them to minimum contracts.
So, Denver definitely has some options when it comes to ways they can improve the roster, and certainly more now following their recent transactions. It will be interesting to see just how creative they can get, particularly with the lack of assets they have at their disposal at the moment.
Overall, considering the needs that the Denver Nuggets currently have at back up center, and depth along the wing, it’s hard to believe that the team will want to rely on rookie Christian Braun to put up big minutes off the bench, at least for the time being. Which means that the next few days and weeks will provide us with more clarity as to how this roster will look next season.
For now, it’s up to the front office to continue to make the necessary moves to put the best team possible on the floor, and one that’s capable of bringing a championship to the Mile High City. So far, they’re off to a great start.