During the Pelicans game against the 76ers in Philadelphia, Chris Haynes, an NBA reporter for ESPN, announced New Orleans has displayed an interest in trading for Will Barton, an offensive minded wing for the Denver Nuggets.
Washington, New Orleans among teams reached out to Denver to gauge availability of Will Barton, league sources tell ESPN. Exploratory now.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) December 21, 2016
Barton had a breakout campaign last season for the Nuggets, averaging 14.4 points, 1.4 threes, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.9 steals. After being considered the early odds-on favorite to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award, Barton finished 4th in the voting — a respectable finish for a player on a lottery team.
With Gary Harris picking up right where he left off in 2015-16 and the Nuggets needing to find minutes for Jamal Murray, as well as Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler able to hold down the small forward spot, opponents may be viewing Barton as an obtainable piece.
The obvious question is, what can Dell Demps offer the Nuggets to strike a deal?
Our friends over at Denver Stiffs threw out Solomon Hill as a possibility because the Nuggets desperately need to improve a defense that is currently ranked 27th in the league. Although he would help in that regard, it’s difficult to imagine Tim Connelly wanting to add a bloated 4-year contract. Hill was an enviable free agent this past summer, but he has woefully underperformed from a statistical perspective so far this season.
If I had to hazard a guess, any potential deal would have to include either draft picks and/or Cheick Diallo. Denver has nice pieces up and down their roster, but they lack a superstar. With the 2017 NBA Draft brimming with potentially elite prospects, I’m sure the Nuggets would love to be able to pry the Pelicans first round pick out of New Orleans.
Please don’t do it, Dell.
Trading away the first rounder should be an automatic deal breaker, even if it nets Barton and perhaps another enviable young player like Jusuf Nurkic. A chance at Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk and several others demands patience for a team devoid of exceptional talent outside of Anthony Davis.
However, if the Nuggets are willing to take less, then I wouldn’t mind New Orleans entertaining an offer because Barton would be a solid addition in Gentry’s desired pace and space strategy. He is a high energy player who can not only finish above the rim but also drain a long three-pointer. His playmaking skills are to the point that head coach Mike Malone considered him apt to initiate the offense during preseason, and reportedly his defense is improving.
Maybe Denver’s general manager is willing to take less because Malone is beside himself about the abysmal team defense, but to be honest, Connelly doesn’t operate like that, especially with a team not ready to win now. With how Haynes worded his tweet above — exploratory now — it indicates Dell Demps is just fishing, something general managers do on a consistent basis.