The Nuggets have traded Chucky Atkins to Oklahoma City along with their (protected) 2009 first round pick in exchange for Johan Petro and Oklahoma City’s second rounder.
I honestly think this is a very good deal. Petro is far from a stud, but he is a big body and definitely provides the insurance in the front court that the Nuggets have been seeking. Petro, like Chucky in Denver, had fallen out of the rotation in Oklahoma City so do not look for him to see much playing time in Denver unless there is an injury.
Petro has never developed as an offensive player. If he is not within a couple of feet of the rim, he is not going to score. I remember watching him in summer league action a couple of summers ago and being baffled at how poor his offense was. It was obvious that he was there strictly to work on his scoring so he was a complete black hole when he received the ball. It was not pretty.
The draft picks involved are the most interesting part of this deal. In recent drafts early second round picks have become more valuable than late first rounders due to the salary scale imposed on first round selections. Teams can not afford to draft foreign players after the first few picks because the slotted salary is not high enough to pay their exorbitant buyouts. Because of that the first pick in the second round is coveted because it is the first pick without any salary stipulations attacked and this the first shot at the best foreign talent. Last season the only pick that was locked in after the first two was the first selection in the second round where Minnesota drafted Serbian big man Nikola Pekovic.
Financially this deal is a big winner for Denver. They cut another $1.3 million off the books and now know that they will be under the luxury tax level even if J.R. Smith earns some or all of his bonus money. With any trades from here on out the Nuggets will be playing on an even financial field where they will not be looking to take back much less than they send out.
All in all this may seem like a big trade to Nuggets fans because Chucky was brought in to be a starter, but in reality it is a swap of non rotation players and some draft picks that will come about long after the names of college and international players that the casual fan knows of will be picked. Still, I think it was a good deal for Denver.
One last note, looking at the salaries this deal must have been completed using trade exceptions. The salaries do not match and you cannot combine a trade exception with a player. Denver has the big trade exception from the Marcus Camby trade that was “refreshed” in the Chauncey Billups deal and Oklahoma City has a trade exception from their trade sending Wally Szczerbiak to the Cavs last season. Now Camby’s $10 million trade exception is down to about $7.5 million give or take $100,000.
The Denver Nuggets have made yet another salary dump trade with the Los Angeles Clippers and once again they may have acquired a second round pick as part of the deal.
That is right, the Nuggets have shipped Cheikh Samb off to the Clippers along with some cash in exchange for a conditional second round pick. This trade in and of itself does not get the Nuggets under the luxury tax, but it makes it possible to trade a player such as say, Chucky Atkins to do so.
The Nuggets were roughly $900,000 over the luxury tax threshold and now that they have reduced that amount by $711,517. Denver no longer needs to package two players and convince a team to take on significant additional salary. All they need is to send out around $200,000 more than they take back in salary and they can accomplish that by trading any single player other than Sonny Weems. There is no doubt in my mind that they will pull off a trade to do so before the February 19th trade deadline.
What the Nuggets front office is on the verge of accomplishing is not something that will make fans stand up and cheer and no one will be writing blog post 20 years commemorating how the Nuggets dropped $15 million in salary obligations in less than one season it is an impressive accomplishment.