For months, Denver Nuggets fans have pondered over a wide variety of trade scenarios involving Raymond Felton, and in nearly every one it seems a different NBA team is involved. Up until this point, all of those dreamy trade concoctions were nothing more than fun, time-killing fabrications. But now, for the first time since obtaining Felton from the Knicks, the Nuggets have two teams that have gone public in expressing their interest in our current backup point guard: the Lakers and Kings.
In a recent article titled, Hawks assess trade interest in Smith, Adrian Wojnarowski (aka, “Woj”), of Yahoo! Sports, delved into some of the hottest trade rumors circulating throughout the NBA, and amongst the speculation lay this gem:
The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings are two teams with interest in prying Raymond Felton(notes) from the Denver Nuggets, league sources said. The Nuggets believe strongly in Ty Lawson(notes) as their point guard, and Felton, with a $7.5 million expiring contract, is expendable.
Since this point in time, Chad Ford submitted a TrueHoop blog post similar to the one Wojnarowski published, where NBA Draft rumors are the focal point. Apparently, the Kings interest in Raymond Felton was so provocative that it led Ford to title his blog post, “Latest draft buzz: Kings’ No. 7 for Felton?” Naturally, Ford tackled the Felton issue in the very first paragraph, and this what he had to say:
Would the Kings be willing to send the No. 7 pick to the Nuggets for Raymond Felton and the No. 22 pick? The Kings have had interest in Felton, but it’s probably going to take them giving up the No. 7 pick to get him. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Nuggets grab Jonas Valanciunas or Bismack Biyombo if they could get up to No. 7.
It’s kind of funny. After all this time, I was thinking the most we could get for Felton would be a late first, or early second-round pick — that is, if we wanted to move him for selections in the Draft. Case in point: I’m sure you all recall with lucid distinction (sarcasm meter on high), that only a few weeks ago I had this to say in the comments section my Nuggets Draft Tweets post:
The Heat at No. 1, Kings at 5, Lakers at 12, 16, 26 and 28, and Hawks at 18 are all teams that could potentially be willing to part with their picks for Felton. Just looking at that list, I’d definitely see if we could target either the Heat, because they have the first pick in the second round; or the Lakers, because they have FOUR picks in the second round. Both of those teams are in desperate need of a good point guard and would likely be able to retain Felton after his contract expires (would Felton even think about leaving once he goes to either of those locations?). The intriguing aspect about the Lakers is that we could probably ask for three of those four second round picks and I think they’d consider it since they’re so late in the round, plus, it’s not like the Lakers actually use its draft picks anyways.
But now here we are with the Draft nearly upon us, and Chad Ford — one of the more respectable reporters of the Free World — is stating that, “it’s probably going to take [the Kings] giving up the No. 7 pick to get [Felton].”
Wait! What? I missing something here?
Correct me if I’m wrong (actually dont, because I’m positive on this one), but Raymond Felton does only have one year left on his contract with no options of any kind, right? If that’s the case, then why in the world would the Kings be willing to give up the No. 7 pick in the Draft without the guarantee that Felton would sign an extension to play there after his one-year contract expires? In theory, Felton could simply play one season with the Kings, get his numbers up to the All-Star level they were at in New York, then abruptly leave for greener pastures after receiving a hefty pay-day from a different club along the way. I’m almost positive Chad Ford understands this. I mean, how could he not considering he comes up with these types of scenarios for a living? Whatever, maybe there is something I don’t know. Maybe there’s rumors that next Collective Bargaining Agreement will almost certainly harbor some kind of system that allows a team’s future free agents to return at a drastically increased amount, enticing them, even more than what is currently implemented, to stay with their incumbent franchises? Whatever the situation, the bottom line is that the Kings definitely understand the risk its taking, right? Come on, there’s just no way Kings’ management would knowingly put the franchise in such a potentially disastrous situation, that’s just too amateur. But… what if they really are that desperate? Or what if there really is some kind of overwhelming confidence trickling throughout the franchise that practically assures them they’ll be able to retain Felton after 2012? I just don’t know. But what I do know, is that if the Kings were willing to part with the No.7 pick in exchange for Felton and our No. 22, the Denver Nuggets would have made some of the most downright divine lemonade out of the nearly spoiled-rotten lemons we were originally presented when Melo decided he was too cool to play in the Mile High City.
Some candidates the Nuggets would likely consider with the No. 7 overall pick in the Draft would be: Jan Vesely, Jonas Valanciunas, Kawhi Leonard, Tristan Thompson, Bismack Biyombo and Alec Burks. There is an outside chance that Kemba Walker would fall to us, and then of course we’d enter the classic, “Best Player Available vs. Team Need” debate, but excluding this scenario I think all the players mentioned above would fit well with the Nuggets going forward. Yet two guys out of this bunch specifically garner my interest, and that’s Biyombo and Brooks. Biyombo is quite possibly the biggest enigma the Draft, yet if he pans out could be the next Ben Wallace, while Brooks is almost certain to have a solid NBA career at the shooting guard spot. Personally, I’d love to land Burks. I think he’s wildly underrated and could be a multi-time All-Star. Plus, it’s not often that the University of Colorado gives the NBA future stars, so when it does, I think it’s of the utmost importance that the Nuggets look to keep them in state where they’ve made us so proud already. No, this isn’t’ the Jazz and Jimmer Fredette. We wouldn’t be giving in to the pressure of thousands of irrational denizens who know nothing about building a franchise by reaching for our version of Jimmy Chitwood just to please a fan-base. We’d actually be taking a prospect we never even thought of trading up for, but one that has possesses the elements it takes to succeed at the next level. After all, the last time a University of Colorado player graced the Nuggets roster, it worked out pretty well. Just sayin’.
As for the Lakers, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here (on second thought… yeah, I am… sadly) but I’ve suspected them to be interested in Felton for a while now. He’s the perfect fit alongside Kobe and Pau, as he won’t overshadow their already occupied “Superstar Members Only Club (number of members allowed: two),” plus the Lakers have been in dire need of a more youthful point guard who can stretch the floor and distribute at a high level for years.
The real question Nuggets fans have to be asking is, “What would the Lakers be willing to give up for Felton?”
As mentioned above, whenever discussing Felton trade scenarios we have to always remember: He only has one year left on his contract. This eliminates the possibility of the Nuggets simply being able to ship him off to whichever team offers the most in return, as everyone knows he could get up and walk away after serving only one season of duty for that team (although Chad Ford is making it seem as if the Kings might do its best to defy this sentiment). But with the Lakers, it’s different. They’re one of only a handful of franchises that could rest assured Felton would be comfortable re-signing, because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to play for the Lakers? This level of franchise security, pride and affluence would conversely allow the Nuggets to ask for more than what they might regularly receive in exchange for a one-year rental. So, if Felton is going to be on the Lakers roster for years, it only makes sense that the Nuggets receive a significant amount of value (roughly equal to the amount Felton possesses) in return. But who, or what, can the Lakers offer that meets these standards? Realistically only a few guys.
The one name Nuggets fans are tossing around — and rightly so — since the surfacing of these latest rumors is Lamar Odom. Of all the players on the Lakers roster, it’s Odom who probably offers the most accurate amount of value packaged in a single player equal to Felton. But still, the chance the Lakers disassemble a back-to-back NBA Championship roster for the sake of bringing in Felton seems unlikely. Odom just came off one of the best seasons of his career in which he received NBA 6th Man of the Year honors, and with Bynum always at risk for another injury, he’s some of the best insurance the NBA has to offer. Artest might be the more realistic player available, as he’s already publicly expressed his desire to escape L.A. in fear of being made the scapegoat if the Lakers fail in the future. Odom on the other hand, just wouldn’t appear as cooperative. He’s already married to a Kardashian sister, has his own TV show and would likely be thrilled with the opportunity of starting for L.A.
Again, the Lakers possess picks No. 11 (though the quote states 12, it’s actually 11), 16, 26 and 28 in the second round of this year’s draft. Some players projected by Draft Express to be available then include: E’Tuan Moore, Jon Leuer, Jordan Williams, Shelvin Mack, Isaiah Thomas, Andrew Goudelock, Malcolm Thomas and Greg Smith. Guys like Jeremy Tyler, Norris Cole, Nolan Smith, JuJuan Johnson and Charles Jenkins are slated to go just before No. 11.
Though second-round picks aren’t nearly as exciting as first-rounders, the amount the Lakers possess is rare and presents a unique opportunity for the Nuggets. Though I’d still love to land Odom if anything from L.A., we need to be open to the idea of taking on Artest and a number of second-rounders (preferably four) in exchange for Felton. With four second-rounders and a first rounder at No. 22, the Nuggets would almost certainly be able to move into the top 10 of the Draft. If this meant getting someone like Burks, T. Thompson, Biyombo, etc. to pair with Artest, then that has to be looked upon as a solid move as we’d have turned an expiring contract with no intentions of re-signing and our 22 selection into a top ten pick and one of the best defensive players in the NBA. There are obviously a multitude of different scenarios that you could come up with, so please, feel free to in the comments section.