The Nuggets have stockpiled an intriguing collection of young talent, with team president Josh Kroenke suggesting this week that he’s pleased with the direction of the franchise. According to Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post, the club could’ve gotten even younger earlier this year, with teams offering the Nuggets their first-round picks for Will Barton. However, Denver opted to keep the 25-year-old.
It comes as no real surprise that Barton drew significant trade interest. The former second-round pick enjoyed a breakout season off the bench for Denver in 2015/16, averaging 14.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 2.5 APG, and his contract represents one of the biggest bargains among non-rookie deals in the NBA. He’ll make just $3.533MM annually in each of the next two seasons, which must have looked incredibly appealing to teams diving into the free agent market to find a wing player in July.
On the other hand, it makes sense that the Nuggets would want to hold on to Barton. Denver already held three first-round picks in this year’s draft, and ended up using all three top-20 selections to add players to its current roster. Adding yet another rookie to the mix wasn’t necessary for a team that’s already very young.
As for which teams might have been interested in Barton, Dempsey doesn’t identify specific clubs, but I suspect no teams with top-eight picks were offering up those selections. Based on Dempsey’s report, it’s also not entirely clear whether those trade inquiries came at the 2016 deadline or during the offseason — it’s possible the Nuggets received calls at both times of the year.