The Denver Nuggets came out of the NBA Draft Thursday night in a similar place to where they started; with an overcrowded roster and not much clarity when it comes to their rotation for next season.
According to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, the Nuggets talked with Chicago about Jimmy Butler prior to the Bulls trading the three-time All-Star to Minnesota (along with the 16th pick) in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 selection. That rumor was backed up by ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who wrote Friday that Denver didn’t include Jamal Murray in those conversations, killing a potential deal.
(Chicago) poked around with Denver, but the Nuggets drew a line at Jamal Murray, sources say. Those teams had to weigh the possibility of Butler bolting in 2019, which cooled the market a bit, sources say.
Nuggets’ President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly noted after the draft that Denver was very far along with one trade on draft night that he thought was “done” but then pulled at the “11th hour.”
Without including Murray or center Nikola Jokic, it’s hard to imagine Denver assembling a more enticing package than what Minnesota and Tom Thibodeau offered.
“Yeah,” Connelly said about if Denver was disappointed that a deal didn’t get done on draft night. “Some of the things we talked about, we were the aggressors. With that in mind, we were hopeful and you have your fingers crossed. Dealmaking is a delicate balance and it’s frustrating when you feel like you have a good deal for not just your team but for other teams involved and it falls apart at the one-yard line.”
The Nuggets ended up trading down from the 13th pick to 24th overall and received power forward Trey Lyles from the Utah Jazz. Denver then selected Syracuse big man Tyler Lydon at 24. Lyles and Lydon will compete for minutes at the four with Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Juancho Hernangomez, Mason Plumlee, and Darrell Arthur next season.
Denver could have upwards of $40 million to spend in free agency beginning July 1 and will surely look to make a significant splash in that market after striking out on draft night.