Forward Trey Lyles will earn playing time by his efforts on the defensive end, according to Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. The Nuggets acquired him in a draft-day trade with the Jazz that involved a swap of first-round picks. Lyles joins a crowded frontcourt but Denver needs a better defensive presence at the power forward spot. “I think personally, for me, being able to be versatile and guard different positions, keep guys in front of me and just compete is the main thing for me,” he told Kosmider. “This past summer I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on that. I’m continuing to focus on it through different training exercises to get better with it.” Lyles shot just 36% from the field last season while averaging 6.1 PPG during his second year in the league.
In other news involving the Nuggets:
- Second-round selection Vlatko Cancar will remain in Europe for a couple of seasons before joining the Nuggets, Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports tweets. The Nuggets used the 49th overall pick in last week’s draft on Cancar, a 20-year-old small forward from Slovenia. He currently plays for Mega Leks in the Serbian League.
- GM Tim Connelly nearly pulled off another draft-day swap but it fell apart at the last minute, Kosmider reports. A disappointed Connelly thought he had a done deal before the trading partner backed out, though Connelly wouldn’t provide any details (Twitter links). The Nuggets tried to trade for Jimmy Butler before the Bulls dealt him to the Timberwolves and also pursued a deal for Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, according to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. The Nuggets were also involved in three-way negotiations that would have brought Cavs power forward Kevin Love to Denver.
- The front office led by Connelly hasn’t proven it can attract top free agents to Denver, Kiszla writes in the same story. The Nuggets are reportedly targeting Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap but Kiszla doubts that the team’s brass can close the deal on any of this year’s high-level free agents.