The Denver Nuggets made their major move in the offseason, acquiring Paul Millsap to bolster a frontcourt already starring Nikola Jokic.
Thursday’s three-team trade sending Emmanuel Mudiay to the New York Knicks, Doug McDermott to the Dallas Mavericks, and Devin Harris to Denver isn’t as splashy, but the Nuggets hope it will stabilize an up-and-down backcourt.
Harris is exactly the sort of caretaker this young Nuggets team desperately needed coming off the bench: a solid veteran with enough size to play either guard spot next to Jamal Murry and Garry Harris who doesn’t turn the ball over much and whose spot-up shooting numbers should benefit greatly from Denver’s ball movement based offense.
An excellent defender against pick and roll ballhandlers, Harris will also provide a cool down option to throw at opposing point guards when they get rolling. While Jamal Murray has definitely improved in this area, Harris is clearly superior at the moment.
From a salary cap perspective, Harris is an expiring contract. With the upcoming Jokic extension, a likely max, and Gary Harris’s extension kicking in, the Nuggets need money off the books. This move will provide a bit of cap relief once they renounce his Bird Rights or resign him to a smaller deal.
For the Knicks, they are taking a weird flyer on a young point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay who has disappointed thus far in his career. His lack of development has been frustrating to many, but he has shown short term flashes at times this season. The move is odd on the surface because of the presence of Frank Ntilikina and the hoops they jumped through to make space for Trey Burke, but my feeling is the team wants to see how these guys react to pressure and internal competition. I have my own reservations about splitting development time in what is a lost season with Porzingis’ injury, but it never hurts to have young guys with theoretical upside.
The Dallas Mavericks received Doug McDermott who has been an interesting player this season for the Knicks. I’m not sure what his fit is going to be in Dallas long term, but his ability to knock down threes and play multiple positions has to have some value for them. Beyond this season, the Mavs could use him as a cheaper guy to help fill out their bench after they attempt to make a huge splash in Free Agency.