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Tracking the latest rumors ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline and how they affect the Nuggets.
Wednesday, February 7th
Rumor: Suns interested in Royce O’Neal, per The New York Post.
Nuggets Analysis: This is the type of acquisition that is easy to see the Suns targeting. They need two-way players (they really need just capable defenders) and O’Neal is that.
Rumor: Gordon Hayward’s time with the Hornets is “up,” per The Charlotte Observer.
Nuggets Analysis: Denver can’t trade for Hayward. Not many contenders can with how inflated his salary is. But if the former All-Star hits the buyout market, which has been rumored for a while, he’s going to be in high demand. Unfortunately, the Nuggets can’t sign him if that happens. If they could, I bet Denver would have interest. As an above-the-first tax apron, the Nuggets can’t sign a buyout player who’s making above the mid-level exception ($12.4 million). The Celtics, Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Bucks, and Suns are all in that same boat. But Hayward could wind up with another West playoff team.
Rumor: Jazz interested in Bruce Brown, per Yahoo Sports.
Nuggets Analysis: Despite dealing away Simone Fontecchio earlier today, the Jazz, according to most, could be buyers up until tomorrow’s deadline. And an addition like Brown would be a perfect fit as they chase a spot in the play-in tournament. The Jazz are pesky. No, I think the Nuggets would handle them fairly easily in a potential first-round series. That should go five games at the most. But Utah is one of the most difficult places to play, especially in the postseason. Brown’s toughness and ability to just make things happen would make road playoff games there even more daunting. The Nuggets still have two more games on the schedule vs. the Jazz this season. One of those is on the road.
TRADE: Timberwolves acquire Monte Morris.
Nuggets Analysis: Tim Connelly gets one of his guys back. The Timberwolves were in the market for a backup point guard and flirted with Morris, Tyus Jones, Delon Wright, and others. Morris will slot in with their second unit and I bet Minnesota wants him to be the last guy in their playoff rotation. There was some Morris/Denver rumors last week over the weekend, but I have been told by those close to the Nuggets all season that there was no chance that Morris would return to Denver. Morris makes the Timberwolves better — they acquired him for Shake Milton and Troy Brown Jr., who weren’t playing, plus a second-round pick. Morris also has been out with an injury most of the season and just came back. I’m not sold that he’s the same player that he was in Denver.
TRADE: Celtics acquire Xavier Tillman.
Nuggets Analysis: Tillman is a strong, physical, good defensive center who’s particularly stout at guarding opponents in the post. The Celtics definitely made this move for some of the big men they could face in the playoffs — Julius Randle, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and probably Nikola Jokic in a potential Finals matchup. Except Jokic had a perfect triple-double on Tillman and the Grizzlies in December. Tillman is someone who can soak up some minutes guarding Jokic, but he’s too small at 6-foot-8 to really bother him.
TRADE: Pistons acquire Simone Fontecchio.
Nuggets Analysis: I don’t view this as the start of a Jazz firesale. I think Danny Ainge just looked at Fontecchio as someone he could get value for (he got Detroit’s second-round pick in 2024, which will be very high), and clean up his rotation in the process. Utah might not have wanted to pony up for a Fontecchio extension this summer too. The Jazz still seem like they’ll chase the play-in tournament.
Rumor: Lakers believe they can acquire Donovan Mitchell in the summer, per CBS Sports.
Nuggets Analysis: As we creep closer to Thursday’s deadline, it feels like the chances of the Lakers making a needle-moving move are dropping, and reports like this lead me to think that way. Los Angeles might realize it doesn’t have the team to win a championship this season — and there aren’t any realistic trades out there that can move them significantly in that direction.
Rumor: 76ers expected to make 1-3 trades before the deadline, per ESPN.
Nuggets Analysis: Philadelphia clearly feels pretty good about its chances of getting Joel Embiid back for the playoffs. That’s how they’re operating at least.
Tuesday, February 6
Rumor: Raptors, Nets, Hawks interested in D’Angelo Russell, per ESPN.
Nuggets Analysis: No surprise that the Lakers are entertaining offers on Russell. He’s playing the best ball that he has in a while and Los Angeles might look to sell high. Dejounte Murray still looms for the Lakers as an option, in my opinion. I predict that’s who they ultimately wind up with.
Rumor: Lakers inquire about Tyus Jones, Danilo Gallinari, per HoopsHype.
Nuggets Analysis: These are two players that would maybe help the Lakers, but just barely. The reported asking price is a first-round pick for Jones, and I bet Gallinari would come cheaper. There isn’t much to be concerned with here from a Nuggets perspective. I don’t know what Gallinari has left in the tank.
Rumor: Bucks interested in Dorian Finney-Smith, per SNY.
Nuggets Analysis: I think Finney-Smith, a rangy and long 6-foot-7 forward who can play inside and out would be a great fit for Denver. It seems like he’s a hot commodity this deadline though. I don’t think the Nuggets have the trade assets (that they want to part with) to get him.
Rumor: Bucks showing interest in Bruce Brown, per Clutch Points.
Nuggets Analysis: This would be a great fit for the former Nugget, who makes too much money for Denver to bring him back in a trade right now. Milwaukee badly needs his defense. I’d hate to play Brown in the Finals though.
Rumor: 76ers showing interest in Buddy Hield and Bojan Bogdanovic, per Yahoo Sports.
Nuggets Analysis: It’s always good to see playoff rotation-caliber players staying in the Eastern Conference or heading there, but they’d both be good adds for the 76ers and take some of the offensive responsibility off Tyrese Maxey’s shoulders. It seems like Philly is operating at the trade deadline like there’s a decent chance Joel Embiid returns for the playoffs. Either of these moves (both Hield and Bogdanovic make too much money for Denver to trade for them) would signal that the 76ers are still hoping to make a postseason run.
Rumor: PJ Tucker is “actively trying to get traded,” per ESPN.
Nuggets Analysis: Tucker has only played in 12 games with the Clippers this season and hasn’t appeared in a game since Nov. 29. I’m not sure if the former Jokic stopper (for one game) has anything left in the tank, but I bet he’s hoping a contender picks him up. This seems like a classic veteran buyout to me. I don’t think he’s a fit with the Nuggets, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a West playoff team signed him. We might have to hear about when “PJ Tucker shut down Nikola Jokic for a quarter in a regular season game in Philadelphia over a year ago” in April or May.
Monday, February 5
Rumor: Nuggets inquire about Delon Wright, per Marc Stein.
Nuggets Analysis: If Denver is serious about trading for Wright, then they might not be completely confident with Reggie Jackson being their de facto guard off the bench in the playoffs. Wright is 6-5 and two inches taller than and a better defender than Jackson. Maybe the Nuggets view him as a more solid or consistent playoff option than Jackson, who’s more offensively focused. Wright makes around $8 million, so I think Denver can make this deal by including only Zeke Nnaji, Justin Holiday, and Vlatko Cancar plus second-round draft picks.
“I can’t imagine we’re actively calling many teams right now,” Michael Malone said Sunday.
Rumor: Mavericks, Bucks have discussed a Grant Williams, Bobby Portis swap, per Marc Stein.
Nuggets Analysis: Much ado about nothing. I don’t think this move makes the Mavs any better or more dangerous in a potential playoff series vs. Denver.
Rumor: Lakers won’t pursue trading for a third max player unless he is an All-NBA-caliber player, per ESPN.
Nuggets Analysis: Obviously, if the Lakers were to fall backwards into an All-NBA player (it would be a very Lakers thing to happen) they become scarier. No doubt about that. But are there any players on the trade market right now that fit that description? Dejounte Murray? No. Donovan Mitchell? Yes, but I doubt the Cavs are trading him while they’re the third seed in the East. It seems like this deadline might end with a marginal move from the Lakers and more passive-aggressive emojis from LeBron James.
Rumor: Clippers, Mavericks are interested in PJ Washington, per Marc Stein.
Nuggets Analysis: PJ Washington is a very good player who’s been off the casual fan’s radar while playing in Charlotte. He’d be a 20-25 minutes per game guy on either the Clippers or Mavs. It would make both teams better, and he’d be a great addition to the Clippers. This is one to watch out for. It makes the Clippers, who I think are the toughest playoff matchup for the Nuggets right now, more dangerous.
Rumor: Mavericks, Pacers expressing interest in Andrew Wiggins, per The Athletic.
Nuggets Analysis: The Mavs feel like the one Western Conference playoff team destined to make a significant move. I can’t blame them. They need a shake-up. I don’t think Andrew Wiggins is it though, especially with how inept he’s looked in Golden State. It does give the Mavs another guy for the playoffs, but I’m not that concerned by this if I’m the Nuggets.
Rumor: Timberwolves interested in Tyus Jones, Monte Morris, Bones Hyland and Delon Wright, per per HoopsHype.
Nuggets Analysis: Jones is a solid and capable backup point guard, and he might be the cream of the crop when it comes to the backup point guard market. I have a feeling he might land back home in Minnesota where he’s from. Also, the word on the street has always been that Connelly is interested in a reunion with Hyland. I heard that he wanted Hyland at last year’s trade deadline too, but the Nuggets dealt him to the Clippers. It feels like close to a lock that Hyland gets traded at this deadline for second-round picks.
Rumor: Rockets interested in Mikal Bridges for Jalen Green swap, per Yahoo Sports.
Nuggets Analysis: This would be a huge get for Houston, and while I don’t think he would push the Rockets up too many tiers in the West this season, it would be a great move heading into next year. But I have no idea why Brooklyn would entertain trading Bridges away, even if Houston loaded them up with future first-round draft picks.
Rumor: Suns are the leading suitor for Miles Bridges, per Yahoo Sports.
Nuggets Analysis: Bridges would be a massive addition for the Suns who right now don’t know who they can trust in their playoff rotation. He’d come off the bench for Phoenix but could definitely factor into the Suns’ closing five too. Bridges is a good player and can be a difference-maker in a playoff series.
Rumor: Knicks interested in Bruce Brown, per Yahoo Sports.
Nuggets Analysis: If Brown gets traded, I hope he stays in the Eastern Conference, unless the Lakers acquire him. Then he can go double-agent status in a Nuggets-Lakers playoff series a la Andre Iguodala. Brown would be a great fit on this Knicks team though.