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Nuggets part of a four-team, 12-player trade that’s a head scratcher

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Moments after coming off the court, while still celebrating a dominant 127-99 win over the Blazers at Pepsi Center, the mood in the Nuggets locker room suddenly changed. That’s when the news began to spread like wildfire. Two players on the team had just been traded.

It’s a blockbuster deal, one involving four teams and a bunch of players. Here’s the bottom line for the Nuggets:

• Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt are departing
• Shabazz Napier, Keita Bates-Diop, Noah Vonleh and Gerald Green are arriving, plus a first-round pick from Houston

Napier was the 24th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The point guard out of UConn is averaging 9.6 points, 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds this season. Where will he fit in? Jamal Murray will remain the starter at point guard and it’s hard to see Napier stealing too many minutes away from Monte Morris.

Bates-Diop was a second round pick in 2018. The small forward is averaging 6.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 0.8 assists this season. Where will he fit in? Again, that’s hard to determine, as he doesn’t appear to be a better option than any of the players in Denver’s rotation.

Vonleh was the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The power forward is averaging 4.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.9 assists this season. Once Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee return to the Nuggets lineup, there will be very few minutes available for Vonleh.

Green is a veteran guard, but is currently sidelined with a foot injury.

In other words, the Nuggets don’t appear to have added anyone that helps them this season. Currently sitting third in the Western Conference, just a half game behind the Clippers and four back of the Lakers, the trade seems to make little sense. It doesn’t make Denver better.

In fact, it makes them worse. Beasley has been a key contributor off the bench, especially in recent weeks with injuries to Murray, Gary Harris and others. On the surface, the Nuggets didn’t get anyone in return that fills the Beasley role.

Another sign that this deal wasn’t good for Denver is the spin coming from the team’s apologists. Almost immediately, they were in “the Nuggets aren’t done” mode, trying to get fans to reserve judgment until the entire process is done.

Even Woj was spreading that word.

Here’s hoping that’s true. Because as of right now, it doesn’t appear as though the Nuggets went all in on trying to win in 2020.


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