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Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post wrote an interesting column on Saturday night, essentially making the case that the Nuggets would benefit from trading point guard Emmanuel Mudiay before the deadline.
Kiszla cites the rise of rookie guard Jamal Murray as the biggest reason why the franchise could do without Mudiay in its long-term future:
Let’s get straight to the point: Jamal Murray is a rising star in the NBA, while Emmanuel Mudiay does not look like a starter for the Nuggets, now or ever.
So Denver has a decision to make: Is it time to trade Mudiay?
The best young players in the league got together at NBA All-Star Weekend. Nobody looked better than Murray. With every 3-point basket he swished while earning MVP honors in the Rising Stars Challenge, Murray pushed Mudiay further into the background of Denver’s future, immediate and long term.
As the Nuggets pursue a playoff berth in the Western Conference, Murray deserves to be the team’s No. 1 option at guard, behind both Jameer Nelson and Gary Harris.
-Mark Kiszla Denver Post
As the possibility of trading Mudiay becomes more realistic, it appears veteran point guard Jameer Nelson is more likely to stay in Denver for the playoff run.
Reports in January indicated Nelson was a main target of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ front office. February’s been a different story, as the 35-year-old has started 14 straight games.
All the while, Mudiay missed the last six games due to back issues. Even when healthy, it’s been an up-and-down season for the 20-year-old, who is shooting just 37 percent from the field and owns one of the lowest assist-to-turnover ratios (1.7) of any point guard in the league.
Mudiay started 41 games this season and Denver went 17-24 in those games, but since Nelson took over the starting job, the Nuggets are 7-7.
If the Nuggets want to add a veteran player to assist in the team’s playoff run, the team could include Mudiay in a package along with veterans and assets.
Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler’s names have come up in trade rumors throughout the last few years.
The Nuggets have a few draft assets to use as trade chips, including their own picks, as well as Portland’s second-round pick in 2018.
A package involving Mudiay and a first-rounder could draw interest from teams in rebuild-mode, and also would help add depth to a Nuggets roster that is not known for its defense.
Denver currently holds the eighth-seed in the Western Conference standings, 6.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Barring an unlikely post-All-Star break run, the Nuggets will be in a six-team race to hold the final playoff spot and match up against the Golden State Warriors in the first round.
Dallas, Minnesota, New Orleans, Portland and Sacramento are all right on Denver’s heels within four games of the eighth seed.
To stay in playoff position, it’s likely the Nuggets will try to bolster a young lineup with a piece or two, as many of the teams behind them look to do the same.
Perhaps the “right deal” for Mudiay will not present itself before the deadline, but don’t be surprised to see his name brought up in trade rumors in the future, even after this season concludes.