The Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets exchanged players and picks today that could change the playoff outcome in a big way. Is that good or bad for the Dallas Mavericks?
As trade season enters its prime in the NBA, the Mavs are sitting outside of the playoff picture hoping to secure a first round match-up with the seemingly unbeatable Warriors. Player movement in the Western Conference is always going to impact the playoff race, and on Sunday, the Trailblazers and Nuggets made a surprising move involving two improving, young centers.
The Blazers sent center, Mason Plumlee, to the Nuggets in exchange for a first round draft pick and center Jusuf Nurkic. Plumlee, originally a first round draft pick of the Nets out of Duke, spent two seasons with the Nets before joining the Blazers.
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The talented big man is a willing passer and is known as a first-in, last-out type of worker. The Blazers may be losing some scoring and hustle from their lineup, but they are acquiring a steady, old school player with more potential.
Jusuf Nurkic has spent the last two and a half seasons as a Denver Nugget. The Bosnian big man had an earth-shattering rookie season, but lingering injuries and the emergence of Nikola Jokic have slowed down his progress. The deal suggests that the Nuggets are more committed to trying to win immediately rather than wait for the long term answer either in the draft or in free agency moving forward.
The Mavs should be very aware of the moving pieces in this trade. The trade means less to the Mavs from the Trailblazers’ perspective, as the Blazers have most of their key assets locked into long-term contracts, but the Nuggets’ acquisition of Plumlee should get the Mavs attention.
For years, Kenneth Faried‘s name has been synonymous with trade rumors. An incredible athlete, Faried is not the most talented player in the NBA by any stretch, but his ferocity on the glass and incredible leaping ability make him an intriguing commodity on the trade block.
Since Tyson Chandler‘s second departure, Dallas simply cannot find an athletic center to put next to Dirk Nowitzki. Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri have hinted at those abilities, but the team still does not scare opponents when it comes to options at the five.
Jan 21, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 123-98. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Another name frequently mentioned in swirling trade talks is Emmanuel Mudiay. The Dallas-native is a very talented scorer who has drawn comparisons to a poor man’s Chris Paul. Well sized as a defender to go along with his strong offensive game, Mudiay’s trade value should be gauged by the Mavs who have no long-term solution at the most important position.
The absorption of Plumlee’s contract, combined with his inevitable extension brings Mudiay’s long term security in Denver in question.
The final chip in this trade was a first round pick being sent to the Blazers from the Nuggets. The Mavs still have two players who they would be happy to unload in Andrew Bogut and Deron Williams, and Portland is a team that has sorely needed depth at both center and point guard. While the trade for Nurkic suggests that Portland is looking towards the long term, the Blazers are still in the playoff race and now own three first round picks in the upcoming draft.
The amount of trade ammo that the Blazers possess in the upcoming draft should give the Mavs a trade partner for Williams or Bogut. The Blazers do not necessarily have the spots on their roster to add three first rounders, and could look to add some veterans to help in the short term.
The trade doesn’t impact the Mavs immediately, but it can become an impactful one if they wish. They could look to take advantage of Denver’s now expendable assets, or Portland’s surplus of precious draft picks. The choice, is in Mark Cuban’s hands.