The Nuggets have reportedly spoken to the Rockets about the possibility of a James Harden trade, but Denver would be unwilling to include Jamal Murray in any offer for the former MVP, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post.
As Singer explains, Murray’s impressive postseason run during the Orlando restart over the summer underscored why the Nuggets gave him a maximum-salary extension a year ago. It also demonstrated why Denver views the 23-year-old as a long-term franchise cornerstone alongside Nikola Jokic, who – of course – also wouldn’t be available in any Harden discussions.
With Jokic and Murray off the table, the most obvious centerpiece in a potential Nuggets offer would be Michael Porter Jr. The 22-year-old forward averaged 9.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 55 games (16.4 MPG) during his de facto rookie season in 2019/20.
While those numbers don’t jump off the page, Porter’s upside is considerable and he’s viewed as a potential offensive star. Still, it’s not clear how enthusiastic the Rockets would be about a deal built around him — or how many other assets the Nuggets would be willing to include in such an offer. Houston has reportedly been seeking a return that features an All-Star-caliber young player, along with several other assets (young players or draft picks).
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Denver hasn’t been mentioned as one of Harden’s preferred landing spots, but a report last week indicated that the Rockets had expanded trade talks beyond those teams on his wish list. Presumably, the Nuggets were one of those teams, though it’s unclear if the two sides remain in touch or have engaged in anything beyond exploratory discussions.