NUGGETS

Rumor: Nuggets could be on the good end of a coming Tim Connelly trade

Jan 23, 2023, 1:04 PM

The Denver Nuggets had a nice run with Tim Connelly leading the front office, making it to the western conference final while his second-round picked turned to a two-time MVP.

Connelly is a mover and a shaker and he splashed as soon as he got the Minnesota Timberwolves job, sending the farm for former Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Gobert was technically originally drafted by Connelly’s Nuggets. One of several times Denver was on the bad end of a deal made by him, including the infamous draft-night trade away of Donovan Mitchell. Connelly also ousted Jusuf Nurkic for low value when Nikola Jokic emerged as the future. There also a deadline day blunder where the Nuggets got very little for Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt.

But it wasn’t all bad, Connelly wheeled and dealt for Aaron Gordon and Jerami Grant, among other solid Nuggets. Still, those in-division trades to Minny, Portland and Utah stick in fans’ memories.

Another transaction featuring Connelly and the Nuggets could be coming, according to hoopshype. Denver is supposedly eyeing big man Naz Reid.

Reid, 23, is set to become a free agent this summer after four years in Minnesota. He’s stuck in the rotation behind Gobert and Karl Anthony-Towns, who is expected back healthy soon. The T-Wolves have some other solid players in their frontcourt, making Reid expendable despite the team competing for a playoff spot.

Meanwhile the Nuggets have been trying to figure out who is the right person to backup Jokic for years. Mason Plumlee was the best Denver has had in the spot. Though youngster Zeke Nnaji has started to really fill the role nicely over the past month. Through some up and downs he’s proven to be switchable, a decent shooter and aggressive on the glass. The Nugget signed DeAndre Jordan in the offseason to be a security blanket and bench voice and he’s filled in that role.

So does Denver need a backup bigman? Maybe, if the price is right.

Reid is scoring 10.4 points, grabbing 4.9 rebounds and adding an assist per game in 18 minutes of action a night. Very admirable numbers for a 6-9 backup frontcourt player, who by the way can shoot. This season Reid is 33% from deep and in his four-season career, he’s shot 34% from beyond the arc.

Nnaji can play with Jokic a bit, but most of Denver’s backup fives have either been too small/offer not enough rim protection to truly play center, or can’t shoot well enough to play with Jokic. They’ve been looking for a player who can play center without Jokic and spot-in and play power forward next to Jokic sometimes.

While Reid does get a block per game, he’s not the best defensively. The one-time top 20 high school recruit to LSU does struggle at times in guarding centers, just in the middle of the pack this season among frontcourt players in allowing points in the paint and defensive win shares.

Reid may not be a total replacement for Nnaji but rather offer Michael Malone the chance to go bigger with both off the bench, surrounded by Bruce Brown and the coach’s pick of the two of Bones Hyland, Jeff Green, Vlatko Cancar and Christan Braun. Basically, Denver would go from running a mostly three-guard bench with Brown, Hyland, and often a staggering Murray to a bulkier bench. In a way, Reid is as much of a filler for the struggling Hyland as it is chance to take Green’s spot in the rotation.

A trade may look like a second-round pick or two plus former Connelly signing Davon Reed to the Twin Cities for Reid.

The Nuggets have limited assets so they’ll have to be smart ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline. Denver is still atop the west, leading after a long home-heavy win streak.

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