NUGGETS

Nuggets linked to veteran fan favorite at NBA Trade Deadline

Feb 5, 2024, 3:06 PM

The first big move Calvin Booth made while leading Denver’s front office was to trade away Monte Morris and Will Barton to the Washington Wizards for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. While that move has been a home run, almost two years later Booth may be working to get one of those former Nuggets back.

The Ringer reported on Monday that the Nuggets are interested in trading for Morris ahead of Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline. Morris was dealt this past offseason from Washington to his hometown Pistons but just returned to action six games ago after a hamstring injury has kept him mostly out of Detirot’s wretched season. Big Game Tay was a key Nugget during his five years in Denver, rising from a second-round pick on a two-way contract to the three-year $28 million deal he’s on now that he signed back in 2020 with the Nuggets. The 28-year-old is set to become a free agent at season’s end and the Pistons have little use for the veteran guard as they try to dish out playing time to a bevy of young players—attempting to make any positive steps during their 6-43 season.

Morris had started 135 games the past two seasons for Denver and Washington, becoming the Nuggets starter in the absence of Jamal Muray. The six-foot-two Iowa State grad played in 48 playoff games while in Denver, averaging 11 points, four assists and two rebounds on 47% shooting, 37% from three over his last there playoff runs with Denver. Morris is a bit small for Booth’s current roster constitution ideal but his facilitation, familiarity and the fact that he’s still part of the family would make him a quick fit.

The easiest way to get Morris is if the Pistons bought him out post-deadline and the Nuggets created a roster spot to pick him up. In a trade, Denver would have to either base a package around Reggie Jackson or Zeke Nnaji with picks to get Morris’ $9.8 salary onto the Nuggets roster.

More likely than a Morris trade is a deal for his former Wizards teammate Delon Wright. Marc Stien reported on Monday that Denver had interest in him as a backup guard as well. Bigger at six-foot-five and a bit older but without as much playoff experience, Wright could be a better fit for what Booth and Michael Malone want out of the Nuggets backups.

Wright is a backup for the nine-win Wizards and has scored seven points per game over his NBA career while shooting 35% from deep, adding three rebounds and assists per contest. The trade package for Wright would be similar to that for Morris. Like Morris, Wright may be a buyout candidate.

Both players have been hinted at in Nuggets rumors of the past. The real question is what do they do better than Reggie Jackson? The 33-year-old has struggled a bit in recent weeks but the current backup Nuggets guard has played well when Murray is not on the floor with him. Jackson is shooting 38% from deep, scoring 11 a game and adding four helpers.

Do the Nuggets really need backup point guard, or do they need some more big bodies behind Nikola Jokic? It’s a question Booth will be asking a lot in the coming days.

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