The 2019 NBA Trade Deadline had fans on the edge of their seat waiting for the next big trade to be announced.
While D’Angelo Russell was arguably the most exciting player traded, no deal was more jaw-dropping than the massive four-team trade involving the Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The full trade panned out like this:
Hawks receive: Clint Capela, Nenê
Rockets receive: Robert Covington, Jordan Bell, and a 2024 second-round pick
Timberwolves receive: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round pick
Nuggets receive: Keita Bates-Diop, Gerald Green, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, and Houston’s 2020 first-round pick
The deal gave the Hawks the center they were looking in Capela for and the three-and-D player in Covington that Houston needed for their playoff push. Minnesota obviously dealt their best trade asset in Covington to better improve their chances of landing Russell; which they did.
Perhaps the most interesting player in the deal was the Nuggets. Sitting as the two-seed in the Western Conference, it isn’t like they needed to make a deal. Beasley and Hernangomez have shown potential. However, they are both restricted free agents this offseason. Denver wasn’t going to be able to pay both of them and was able to scoop up a first-round pick in the process. Furthermore, their trade for Napier to the Wizards for guard Jordan McRae could be an underrated one come the postseason.
All of this being said, while the Nuggets were apart of the craziest deal at the deadline, a new report states that they had their eyes set on a much bigger target.
According to Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report, Denver had discussed potential deals with the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans revolving around Zach LaVine and Jrue Holiday respectively. Scotto wrote:
Another playoff team that was active during the trade deadline was the Nuggets. Denver discussed trading starting guard Gary Harris, along with Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez (both dealt to Minnesota), in separate talks for Bulls guard Zach LaVine and Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, league sources told Bleacher Report. The talks didn’t go far, but based on the deadline, Harris could be the next Nugget dealt this summer.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that Scotto stated that talks didn’t advance too far. With that in mind, Denver clearly had plans to acquire a top-tier shooting guard to pair with Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic come playoff time.
The Bulls find themselves in a tough spot right now. They are just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot. However, at 19-35, it’s unlikely they would find any real success in the postseason.
As for LaVine, the 24-year-old is having a fantastic season, averaging 25 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. He is shooting 44.3 percent from the field and hitting three three-pointers per game. At this point in the season, he has improved on almost all of his career stats to date.
The Bulls guard just signed a four-year extension last season, locking him up through 2022. Perhaps they look to continue to build the team around him. But if Chicago continues to falter, LaVine is far and away their best trade chip.
New Orleans is in a similar situation to the Bulls. While they find themselves five games out of a playoff spot, the Pelicans have won 15 of their last 23 games and have recently seen the return of first overall pick Zion Williamson. While they might not compete this season, next year could be big for the Pelicans. As for Holiday, he has continued to shine in his age-29 season, averaging 19.5 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Holiday is under contract for another season and has a player option in 2021-22 for over $26 million. If New Orleans continues to grow, it’s hard to see him declining it. If the Pelicans continue to improve in the standings, it’s hard to see the organization moving him.
Both players might’ve been a pipedream for Denver, but both would undoubtedly improve their hopes of making the NBA Finals. The Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Clippers Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. While LaVine/Holiday might not be on that level, adding either to a starting lineup featuring arguably the best center in the league would bolster their chances.
Beasley and Hernangomez have already been dealt, meaning if these talks pop up again they won’t be involved. However, as Scotto points out, guard Garry Harris could be a trade chip this coming summer.
Harris has struggled in 2019-2020, averaging just 10.2 points per game with not many peripheral stats to go with it. However, he is just two seasons removed from averaging 17.5 points and almost 2.5 threes per game. He is under contract for two more seasons and is just 25 years old.
With the deadline behind us, all of this talk is in hindsight. However, it’s clear the Nuggets are looking for another superstar and it appears they’re willing to use a former first-rounder in Harris to get it.