Back by the popular demand of pretty much only myself, it’s the second annual edition of Around the NBA in 15 Trades. We’re taking all 30 teams in the lead up to the Feb. 7 trade deadline and finding a happy middle ground for prosperous barterdom.
After a blockbuster on Day 1, let’s keep the high spice level rolling. The second trade in this series involves a team exceeding expectations and another living below them.
Denver’s off to a hot start, setting the pace in the Western Conference halfway through a season where, thus far, there’s no clear favorite to win it all. The Nuggets are an ensemble and any number of their players can go off on any given night. While that makes them fun to watch and root for, few franchises won titles that way.
Philadelphia’s record is fine, but their rocky chemistry makes them feel like a powder keg. Despite only coming aboard about two months ago, Jimmy Butler’s already rocking the boat, going as far as challenging head coach Brett Brown. It could be time to reverse course on Butler and reemphasize the city’s Brotherly Love motto.
G/F, Jimmy Butler; G, Markelle Fultz
G/F, Will Barton; G, Jamal Murray; C, Mason Plumlee
Why the 76ers do it:
Once Philadelphia brought Butler into the fold, issues of pecking order bubbled to the surface. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons headlining, the ideal way for building around them would be with dynamic second options who can spread the floor.
Over the last two full seasons, Will Barton shot 37 percent from beyond the arc while Murray hit 35.6 percent of his 3’s. Both have off-the-dribble bounce and can carry offenses in stretches.
Murray hasn’t become the dead-eye shooter he was supposed to be, but that would probably improve by being moved off-ball more. He’s been the pseudo starting point guard in Denver but hasn’t totally gotten past his combo guard label. With Ben Simmons running the show in Philadelphia, that repute would actually represent an advantage and give them someone who could run the offense when Simmons sits.
The 76ers front office is split on Markelle Fultz’s future with the team and could make him available in trade talks, apparently asking for a first-round pick in return. Getting Murray, only two years removed from being drafted No. 7 overall, should check that box.
Why the Nuggets do it:
Denver’s a top team in the West despite Barton missing most of the year. Adding Butler in his place would surely raise their volatility, but would also raise their ceiling. Fortune favors the bold and the Nuggets have an opportunity to swing for the fences.
Few things in the NBA match the sadness of the Fultz saga. Moving on from Philadelphia is probably best for all parties involved and he makes perfect sense for a playoff contender trying to add to their potential.
Get Fultz to Denver, rub some CBD oil on his shoulder, then cross your fingers and hope the change of scenery helps. Hopefully, the laid back mountain air will cure any mental stumbling blocks he accumulated since entering the league. It’s easy to forget it’s only been a season and a half since he was regarded as the consensus top pick and potential superstar.