Fallout and Analysis of the Denver Nuggets Trade Deadline Moves


The Denver Nuggets were active on the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline, shipping two past first-round selections in Juancho Hernangomez and Malik Beasley for a hodgepodge of players and a first-round selection.

The Nuggets were an integral part of a four-team trade involving the Atlanta Hawks, the Houston Rockets, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

This trade helped the Houston Rockets land Robert Covington and ship their only center Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks. The Minnesota Timberwolves added Beasley and Hernangomez while shipping four players to Denver; Shabazz Napier, Keita Bates-Diop, Noah Vonleh, and Gerald Green along with Houston’s first-round pick in 2020.


The Nuggets attempted to resign Malik Beasley this past off-season and he declined a reported three-year, $30 million extension, and was “betting on himself.” Beasley and Hernangomez were strong role players at the start of the year, but both struggled really to shoot effective percentages or really do anything to keep the Nuggets’ up-and-coming star Michael Porter Jr. out of the rotation.

Once Michael Porter Jr. was a mainstay in the rotation and even a sixth man, he strung together exiting games and consistency began to form. After the coaching staff and the fans saw what Porter could be, Beasley and Hernangomez’s roles were minimized. Both were fortunate to raise their trade value after a slew of injuries plagued the Nuggets over the last month, providing them more minutes to show their stuff.


The Nuggets knew they weren’t going to resign either player despite Beasley being a major contributor a season ago and Hernangomez being a fan-favorite. Knowing they were buried on the depth chart, with little opportunity to resign, and not enough minutes to keep them satisfied, the Nugget’s front office had no choice but to ship them.

The package the Nuggets received in return is lackluster with Shabazz Napier being the most exciting of the bunch, and of course, a projected late first-round selection. However, the Nuggets went and traded Napier to the Washington Wizards for Jordan McRae, a bench player shooting guard who could bolster the depth behind Gary Harris instead of a point guard who would be buried behind Jamal Murray and Monte Morris.

The Nuggets also waived the injured Gerald Green, meaning their final haul was McRae, Vonleh, Bates-Diop, and a first-round selection. Vonleh was once a lottery pick, taken 9th overall in 2014, that has bounced around the league looking for a team to maximize his potential. He plays a position that the Nuggets could definitely utilize depth at, with the recurring injuries to Paul Millsap.

Speculation the Nuggets were attempting to land a big-name free agent was definitely loud with players such as Jrue Holiday, J.J. Reddick, Bogdan Bogdonovich and Bradley Beal all flying around social media. The Nuggets even opened up the availability of Gary Harris with their eyes on a veteran, shooting guard to improve the roster’s three-point consistency.


The Nuggets are an absolute contender this season, and Michael Porter Jr. healthy is the piece that sets them over the top. Their lack of a big splash move at the trade deadline shows the management believes the same. Since returning from an ankle injury, Jamal Murray has been playing like a man with an NBA Championship goal and mindset.

The team sits at 37-16, with a 9-0 record against their division opponents, and second place in the Western Conference. The Nuggets’ trade deadline moves were simply to return value for players they knew they couldn’t resign, to land a first-round pick which could potentially be flipped in the off-season, and to add depth to positions they weren’t already loaded with.

In a previous article, I wrote about the logjam of Small Forward talent on the Nuggets roster, as well as the lack of depth at power forward and shooting guard. The Nuggets recognized this bottleneck and flipped two players for a backup shooting guard, a backup power forward and another defensive-minded small forward as well as that always coveted first-round selection.

It wasn’t a big move, but the move fortified the back end of the depth chart, secured an asset, and possibly prevented a locker room bombshell explosion when one of the buried small forwards eventually was fed up with their playing time and divided the team. The Nuggets’ management and fans will be sad about Beasley and Hernangomez departures as they were both electric players, homegrown, that often made big energy plays that excited the Pepsi Center.


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Tyronn Lue, NBA
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