4 Offseason moves Nuggets must make to quiet critics (and stay in contention)

Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Six
Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Six / David Berding/GettyImages
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Move no. 3) - Trade Zeke Nnaji

The Nuggets have an albatross on the roster and it’s Zeke Nnaji and his contract. The team chose to extend him at the beginning of last season and then he became unplayable during the season. Now he’s entering year one of a four-year, $32 million deal that will pay him $8.8 million next season to likely sit on the bench.

He didn’t show that he can be relied on as a backup center or power forward and he was completely axed from Malone’s rotation in the playoffs. That’s not going to work for a player making that much money. With finances so tight, the Nuggets need to find a way to get off his contract and make better use of that money.

He also has the only tradeable salary that could actually bring back a solid rotation piece. $8.8 million is a solid amount of matching salary to work with, so the Nuggets need to go find a player who can actually fit into the current rotation that they can get back for Nnaji (and possibly some sweetener).

Everyone else on the team is either on a minimum, a smaller, rookie-scale contract, or they’re one of the top four guys on the roster, so Nnaji is the only obvious trade chip that makes sense. Hopefully, there are young teams around the league willing to take a shot on Nnaji and willing to send back a veteran in return.

Vasilije Micic from the Hornets is a player who has been mentioned as a possibility and that would make some sense for both sides. The Hornets get to see what Nnaji can do in a bigger role and the Nuggets get a reliable backup point guard. Nnaji’s deal isn’t so bad that he’s untradable, and he’s still young enough that there is some upside.

But the time to strike is now. The Nuggets need a useful player back and burying Nnaji on the bench for another year will basically sap any trade value he ever had. They need to be extremely proactive in finding a trade partner and a way to upgrade the current roster.