As they vie for playoff position, the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets have swapped big men.
The Denver Nuggets (24-30) currently hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, followed closely by the Portland Trail Blazers (23-31). As they vie for playoff positioning, the two teams have made a trade of big men.
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Amid a breakout season for Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic had clearly fallen out of the rotation of Nuggets’ head coach Mike Malone. A trade has seemed inevitable for many weeks now, and Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was first to report Nurkic is on his way to the Trail Blazers.
The immediate reaction to any trade is of course a two-way street, and Wojnarowski has added the details of who and what else is involved in the deal between Portland and Denver.
Portland sends Mason Plumlee a 2018 second round pick for Nurkic and a 2017 first-rounder (via Memphis), league sources tell @TheVertical
Nurkic is averaging 8.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game this season, over 45 games, compared to 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for Plumlee thus far (54 games). But Plumlee is also in line for a nice contract as a restricted free agent this summer, while Nurkic is younger (22) with a palatable $2.9 million team option for next season.
With this trade, Portland now owns three first-round picks in what is looking to be a very deep 2017 draft.
A bigger role is also assured for Nurkic on his new team, with his per-36 minute numbers this season (16.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals) pointing to the upside he has. Time will tell who won Sunday’s deal, with a playoff seed this year as an immediate sign. But looking beyond the end of this season, Portland has avoided having to decide on matching an inflated offer sheet in July while also adding two cost-controllable assets.