People, we have a trade.
On the first Sunday of no football, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski proved the NBA would do its best to replace the void left by the NFL, reporting that the Denver Nuggets would be sending Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee and a second-round choice:
Portland sends Mason Plumlee a 2018 second round pick for Nurkic and a 2017 first-rounder (via Memphis), league sources tell @TheVertical
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 12, 2017
This is one of those trades that appears to make sense for both sides.
Though the Nuggets gave up Nurkic and a first-rounder for someone in Plumlee who will be due a demonstrative raise this summer when he enters free agency, those were expendable assets to them. Plumlee has a better chance of playing beside Nikola Jokic, and he’s a noticeable upgrade overall from Nurkic. The Nuggets have the ability to roll the dice and at least see what his next contract demands, because they don’t have the roster space to add multiple first-round bodies.
The Blazers, meanwhile, had no intention of paying Plumlee in July. They have Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard, Noah Vonleh and Festus Ezeli all under contract and can’t afford to tack on more salary to the core of Damian Lillard, Evan Turner and C.J. McCollum.
That the Blazers were also able to nab a first-rounder in this deal is a huge win. They now have three picks in this year’s prospect pageant, giving them the ability to ship one or two out as part of a larger deal, or to use one as a way of getting another team to absorb Festus Ezeli’s contract.