Nurkic arrives in Portland following trade

The NBA trade winds picked up Sunday, as the Portland Trail Blazers sent center Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-round pick to the Denver Nuggets for a 2017 first-round pick and center Jusuf Nurkic. The Nuggets (24-30) are just one game ahead of the Blazers (23-31) in that race and one-and-a-half games ahead of the Sacramento Kings (23-32). He becomes a restricted free agent after the season. The one acquired in the trade with Denver, which originally belonged to the Memphis Grizzlies, is top-five protected.

Jan 21, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Pepsi Center. As a result they made the move to get Mason Plumlee from the Blazers for center project Jusuf Nurkic.

Let's take a look at the deal for both teams to try and determine what each team was looking to do and whether they accomplished their goals.

The Nuggets want that No. 8 seed and are willing to upgrade their rotation now to get it done.

The talented big man is a willing passer and is known as a first-in, last-out type of worker.

For now, he's an upgrade on Nurkic, who has seen his standing within the organization fall with Jokic's rise.

Although, that's an experiment the Nuggets tried early in the season with Nurkic and Jokic, leading to mixed results. Nurkic has been a reserve ever since. Statistically he has backslid somewhat, averaging just 8.0 points and 5.8 minutes while averaging 17.9 minutes and failing to build on his rookie promise of two seasons ago.

The first-round pick may seem like a heavy price to pay to make this swap, but it will likely be a late first-rounder with Memphis headed for the playoffs, and Denver still has its own pick.

The reason Portland traded him now is simple; this summer Plumlee is going to command an annual eight-figure salary. Meyers Leonard started for the Blazers on Monday night against the Hawks.

Plumlee is in the final season of his current deal and will become a restricted free agent during the National Basketball Association offseason. Plumlee is a decent player, but it would have been hard for the Blazers to justify paying him and incurring those financial penalties. Plumlee is a rim-runner who can theoretically play next to Jokic, whose high-post passing and ability to stretch the floor is Pau Gasol-esque.

Beyond Nurkic, the Trail Blazers landed another 2017 first-round draft pick.

Also involved in the trade were two draft picks.

  • Larry Hoffman