The Nuggets traded Arron Afflalo for Andre Iguodala a few years ago, as part of the Dwight Howard trade. Then the Nuggets traded Iguodala after a year, as part of a deal full of expiring contracts and draft picks, that yielded a trade exception. Then today, the Nuggets used that same $9 million trade exception to re-acquire Arron Afflalo, for Evan Fournier and the 56th pick in tonight’s draft. GOOD GOD Nuggets, figure out whether you like Afflalo or not! In a league, where GM’s are constantly trying to accumulate assets, the Magic just threw a pretty valuable one out the window. Don’t try to tell me Evan Fournier is a legitimate asset. The only reason he has any value is that he’s 21 years old. He has yet to show any potential in the NBA. And the 56th pick will probably bring back nothing, as well. The Nuggets get a borderline All-Star in Afflalo, a 28 year old starting shooting guard in the league, who plays both sides of the ball. Go down the list of the best shooting guards in the league. You’ll notice just how thin the position is today. James Harden doesn’t play defense. Dwyane Wade and Manu Ginobili are old. Jamal Crawford, Monta Ellis, Joe Johnson, and Kevin Martin are just gunners that don’t do anything else. DeMar Derozan probably isn’t as good as stats would indicate and despite making his first All-Star game last year, he is probably a career borderline All-Star caliber player. You’re left with guys like Afflalo and Wes Matthews, very competent and capable starting shooting guards, who probably will never make an All-Star game, but are very valuable.
What the Nuggets were thinking…
The Bulls had been pursuing Afflalo before today’s deal was completed. Afflalo would have been an ideal fit on the Bulls. He can score the ball, something the Bulls desperately need, and he gives Thibodeau-level effort on defense. The Nuggets were a 36-win team, good for 11th in the West, and 13 games out of the final playoff spot. Getting Afflalo for nothing will help, but there’s a chance, this was only the first step of a larger plan. Afflalo is in the prime of his career and is on a very fair salary, $15 million over the next two years. The post-Carmelo era in Denver had been going smoothly, winning 57 games in 2013. But things took a wrong turn. They fired George Karl, one of the best coaches in the league when it comes to coaching up young guys. Then they traded Andre Iguodala, whom they had just acquired the previous year in the Dwight Howard deal, for essentially nothing. And they used the open cap space on Nate Robinson and J.J. Hickson. Finding themselves back out of the playoff picture in the West, the Nuggets might be at the pre-Harden point the Rockets found themselves stuck in a few years ago. That is, with a decently talented team that won’t finish among the worst in the league, but without a star. You would think the Nuggets would be smart enough to realize how far away they are from contending in the West, and that this deal is just about piling up assets for a bigger deal. Between Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets have the pieces to go after someone very good. They probably can’t acquire Kevin Love. Not because their offer would be weak, but because Love probably doesn’t want to play in Denver. Even if the Nuggets don’t move Afflalo as part of another deal, they still get one of the better shooting guards in the league for nothing.
What the Magic were thinking… (Wait, what were they thinking?)
From the Magic’s point of view, the only reasonable possibility is that they plan on drafting Dante Exum, or some other wing player whose spot would have been filled by Afflalo. Does that mean they had to give him up for free? Maybe something else is going on here. It’s not like Afflalo’s salary is so big though. Orlando hasn’t been rumored to be in the mix for any big name free agent, and why would a star be interested in Orlando, other than for the weather? The trade makes sense for the Nuggets, in the sense that they at least got better. It’s perplexing for the Magic though. Something else must be up their sleeve because in the NBA, you don’t just gift wrap good players for nothing. Maybe his value really isn’t high as nearly every NBA fan and expert thinks. Yeah, I doubt it, too.