Are the Denver Nuggets considering trading Kenneth Faried? Grantland's Zach Lowe released his 32 bold predictions for the 2013-2014 NBA season and revealed that "multiple sources" have linked the Nuggets to shopping the NBA All-Energy First Team big man:
Multiple sources around the league have reported in the last month that Denver has put out targeted feelers on Faried, gauging his value and demanding very good return. The Nuggets, for their part, deny they've put Faried's name out there at all.
To be clear, these are only "feelers" and no trade is imminent. Still, it's interesting that Denver could be warm to the idea of moving "The Manimal."
Faried, who is entering the third year of his career, put up career numbers last season with 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game. It's unclear what the Nuggets could be looking for in return, but it's not surprising that they could be interested in tweaking the roster. Denver had the second-highest pace in the NBA last season, averaging 95.1 possessions per game. Head coach Brian Shaw has already hinted at wanting to slow down the offense, singling out his frontcourt players as needing to play a more traditional style, according to CBS Sports' Matt Moore:
"I know that's the main thing our bigs can bring," Shaw said, "our energy. We're not as polished as a lot of bigs in the post in terms of throwing the ball to them with their back to the basket and them going to get a bucket for us. But that's the way we have to play, and they just have to get used to doing it that way, because that's how we're going to do it.
It's a process, and they'll gain more confidence as they get used to the way we're going to get the ball inside to them."
The numbers don't look promising for Faried in the post, however.
Last season he posted up just 39 times, making only 14 of his attempts, according to Synergy Sports Technology. That's a paltry .61 points per possession. In comparison, he averaged over double that in transition with 1.31 points per possession.
Shaw clearly wants to work on expanding Faried's game, but there will be growing pains. Pains the team may avoid altogether if it ends up making one of Lowe's bold predictions a reality.
Factoring Faried's value in the trade market is difficult. He is one of the best rebounders in the NBA, but Shaw is correct in stating there is a lack of polish in the post. Faried is not a post player, but teams are playing less post-up basketball and have become more focused on mobility and transition -- areas where Faried is excellent.
What about future salary implications?
Denver has a $2.3 million team option on Faried for the 2014-15 season before it must decide on his future. The team must then either extend Faried prior to Oct. 31, 2014 or make a qualifying offer of $3.4 million during the summer of 2015 to make him a restricted free agent, giving the Nuggets an opportunity to match any offer while they decide on his value.
Denver has $41.5 million in guaranteed salary already locked in for the 2015-16 season as Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee all make more than $11.5 million each, along with J.J. Hickson's expiring $5.6 million contract. The Nuggets also have a $7.1 million team option for Wilson Chandler that could push that number to $48.6, and it's unlikely that Faried will land a contract worth less than $10 million per season. The team could wind up over the salary cap with that six-man core alone
Complicating matters further for Denver are the expiring contracts of both McGee and Gallinari after the '15-'16 season.
Teams will be interested in opening negotiations with Denver for a 23-year-old power forward who nearly averaged a double-double last season. If the Nuggets are unsure of his long-term growth and ability to fit into what Shaw wants from his frontcourt, it makes sense for the team to try to find a suitor before having to be pressed about a contract extension next October.
Deal imminent though? No. It will be interesting to see what the asking price is if Denver becomes more aggressive in shopping Faried, though, and what teams force their way into the conversation.