The Denver Nuggets could find themselves with a short bench for their Wednesday road game against the Utah Jazz after reportedly pulling off a four-team trade Tuesday night.
The centerpieces of the deal, according to multiple media reports, were Clint Capela, moving from the Houston Rockets to the Atlanta Hawks, and Robert Covington, going from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Rockets.
However, the Nuggets reportedly were heavily involved, too, sending Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Timberwolves. Denver reportedly received in return Noah Vonleh, Shabazz Napier and Keita Bates-Diop, all from Minnesota, plus a 2020 first-round draft pick and injured veteran Gerald Green from the Rockets.
Green, sidelined all season due to a broken foot, reportedly will be waived by the Nuggets. Denver’s other incoming players are unlikely to play Thursday night as the trade gets finalized.
The Nuggets are still without frontcourt stalwarts Paul Millsap (left knee) and Mason Plumlee (right foot), and Michael Porter Jr. has missed two games since rolling his right ankle in Milwaukee on Friday night.
On Tuesday, forward Jerami Grant left Denver’s 127-99 loss at Portland in the fourth quarter after spraining his right ankle, leaving him questionable for Wednesday.
On the plus side, guard Jamal Murray returned to the lineup against the Trail Blazers after missing 10 games due to a sprained left ankle. He finished with 20 points and six assists in 20 minutes.
Denver keeps winning — six victories in the past nine games — despite the injuries, in large part due to the play of Nikola Jokic. The 7-footer has notched double-doubles in 11 straight games, and three of those were triple-doubles. He continued his strong play with 29 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists against Portland.
The Nuggets improved to 8-0 against Northwest Division opponents.
Prior to the deal, Denver coach Michael Malone wasn’t acknowledging the upcoming roster upheaval.
“If we get through Thursday’s trade deadline with the same team, I’d be very happy,” he said. “I have great admiration and respect for our players. We’re having a great season so far, so it’s not like we have to go out there and make all these drastic changes. I love where our group is at and the potential we have, especially when we’re healthy.
“That being said, this is a business. We’ll see what comes up in the next 48 hours.”
The Jazz, meanwhile, had a great start to 2020, winning 11 of their first 12 games in January, but the quick burst has given way to a rough stretch. Utah has dropped four consecutive games, the past three on the road.
Utah does figure to have an advantage Wednesday, though, as it will be playing for the first game in four days while Denver will be completing a back-to-back set.
That wasn’t on the mind of Jazz coach Quin Snyder after practice on Tuesday. The Jazz face a tough schedule before the All-Star break next week, with three of those games coming against teams they’ve lost to during the current streak. Snyder wants to see some change.
“If you do those things, you get a better gauge of where you are. I think that’s what we’re getting right now,” Snyder said, according to the Deseret News. “You may not like it, it may not feel good. It always feels good to win, but at the same time, maybe on some level, it’s what a team needs to take more steps.”
Guard Donovan Mitchell is one of those looking to tweak things going into Wednesday night. Mitchell was held to four points on 1-of-12 shooting in a 106-100 loss at Denver on Jan. 30, a game in which the Jazz led until the Nuggets went on a 19-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters.
–Field Level Media