The Denver Nuggets got themselves involved in a three-team trade that went down just before the NBA Trade Deadline on Thursday, but it's not clear the Nuggets got themselves a good deal in the process. In the transaction, the Washington Wizards sent JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to the Nuggets and Nick Young to the Clippers in exchange for Nene and Brian Cook and a second-round pick from LA. By moving the 29-year old Nene, Denver gets out from under a five-year, $67 million contract he signed with the team this past offseason, but the return features enigmatic big man JaVale McGee and Ronny Tufiaf as filler. Both McGee and Turiaf are impending free agents, and the Wizards hadn't planned on re-signing either one of them. What does that say?
SB Nation's Mike Prada, who is an editor at SB Nation D.C. and creator of Wizards blog Bullets Forever, is the perfect man to look evaluate the deal and explain what the Nuggets got for Nene. In his NBA Trade Deadline Grades post, Prada lists the Nuggets under the Losers category, and here is why:
Sure, Nene's production is down, but he's still a pretty good player and the Nuggets still were in a pretty good place in the Western Conference hierarchy despite injuries to Nene and Danilo Gallinari. Why make this move now after locking up so many core pieces from the Carmelo Anthony trade? If opening up more cap flexibility going forward is the goal, why turn around and give Wilson Chandler a long-term deal? Given the Nuggets' surplus of somewhat productive wing players behind Gallinari and Arron Afflalo (Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez), is paying Chandler preferable to paying Nene? My nagging feeling is similar to the one I had when the Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green last year. It seems Masai Ujiri may have outsmarted himself.
Of course, there's always the chance that JaVale McGee realizes his incredible potential, but my first instinct is that this is not an especially great place for him. George Karl's system is free-flowing and relies on having good decision-makers on the court to figure things out. McGee would probably fare better in a structured system with a defined role.
Perhaps Denver knows something damning about Nene that the Wizards have yet to find out, but if not they might be wishing they could undo the trade within a year.Then again, maybe Kenneth Faried makes them forget about Nene and Mcgee altogether.
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