The Denver Nuggets inserted their way into the Dwight Howard trade, swapping solid shooting guard Arron Afflalo and reserve forward Al Harrington in exchange for Philadelphia 76ers' all-star forward Andre Iguodala.
We talked to Nate Timmons of SB Nation's Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs about the trade.
The Nuggets have now traded Nene and Arron Afflalo, the two 2011 free agents that seemed most important to keep. Do you see it as an admission they overpaid or as a set of trades that upgraded the roster?
Timmons: The Nene trade looked like a deal to make the team younger and more financially flexible. The emergence of Kenneth Faried helped ease the pain of a Nene deal, but yes I felt like Denver likely had some buyer's remorse by dealing the Brazilian so quickly. They were able to pick up a very intriguing piece in JaVale McGee, and honestly, if he decides he wants to be, he could become one of the best centers in the league. So, while that Nene trade might have looked like a bit of a panic move by Denver, it also might have been a great case of selling high on a soon-to-be depreciating asset.
With the addition of Andre Iguodala, the Nuggets went in the opposite direction of the Nene deal, in a sense. They flipped the younger and cheaper Arron Afflalo for him, and that is a bit of a puzzling move, as he was well liked by the coaching staff and front office. But getting out from under the Al Harrington contract was a brilliant move, as it will not only save the Nuggets some money, but it opens up playing time for Wilson Chandler and perhaps Anthony Randolph, as well.
I think both of these trades actually improved the team. I'm very excited about the development of McGee and I think Iguodala will be just what the Nuggets need defensively and a play-maker on offense, while still allowing Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari to be the main offensive weapons.
How do you feel Iguodala fits with a George Karl style team?
Timmons: I know that George Karl really valued Afflalo and if I had to guess, I'd bet the Coach was hoping that one day Afflalo would be the Iguodala of the Nuggets. Now they have Iguodala, and I think he'll fit Karl's system perfectly. He's that physical defensive ace that will have Karl salivating in Denver's high risk/high reward defensive system. He'll be great in the transition game with his athleticism and finishing ability. Finally, he's such a willing and capable passer that I can also seeing Denver using him as a point-forward guy at various times.
Did the ceiling of the Nuggets get higher with the offseason that Denver had? Are the Nuggets, in your mind, a reasonable pick for a top-4 seed in the West?
Timmons: That's the big question -- how much has Denver improved this off-season? I don't see this Iguodala deal as a slam dunk for the Nuggets jumping into the mix for a top-4 seed. They lost two key rotation guys and it will be harder than people think to replace Harrington's bench production. Now the roles and development of Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph, Corey Brewer and Jordan Hamilton will be even more important to this team. We need to see what type of player McGee is going to develop into and Faried will need to avoid the sophomore slump.
A team led by the improving Lawson and hungry Gallinari did get better with the addition of Iguodala. However, I don't think anyone should be proclaiming that Denver will now be a top-4 seed.