Emmanuel Mudiay

Nuggets Were Close To Eric Bledsoe Trade

Denver was in the “red zone” on a potential trade for Eric Bledsoe last month, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Complete details aren’t provided, but Lowe believes Phoenix would have received Emmanuel Mudiay and a first-round pick.

Negotiations with the Suns eventually fell apart and the Nuggets moved on, leaving them with an extremely young point guard duo in Mudiay and Jamal Murray.

“We chase every opportunity to improve ourselves,” said Denver GM Tim Connelly, who refused to comment directly on the Bledsoe talks. “We’ve had a lot of excellent players offered to us for our young talent. There’s a fine line between overvaluing your own players and being too aggressive chasing short-term results.”

The decision not to give up too much for Bledsoe is understandable, writes Lowe, who says he wouldn’t have made made the Nuggets title contenders this season or next. After that, he will be seeking a huge contract as a free agent in his 30s with a history of knee problems.

Lowe also notes that Denver had an opportunity to make a run at Kyrie Irving over the summer, but refused to include Murray in a potential deal. He believes a package of Murray, Wilson Chandler and a minimally protected first-rounder would have gotten the Cavaliers’ attention.

The experience issue at point guard was created just before the season started when the Nuggets elected to waive Jameer Nelson, who played 75 games last season and started 39. Denver worked out a deal to trade him to a lower-level team in exchange for a protected second-round pick, but pulled out because the front office didn’t want Nelson to be stuck on a team with no shot at the playoffs. He eventually signed with the Pelicans after clearing waivers.

“It was tough to see Jameer go,” coach Mike Malone said. “The players trusted him. I find value in veteran mentors. In our meetings, of course I brought up all the reasons it made sense to keep him. But you have to think big picture. It wasn’t like I was kicking and screaming. By the end, we were all on board.”

Latest On Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe continues to sit out games for the Suns and, after a disastrous start to the season, the club has actually looked better with a new starting point guard — and a new head coach. Since Jay Triano replaced Earl Watson on the bench and Mike James replaced Bledsoe in the starting lineup, the Suns have won consecutive games at home, beating the Kings and Jazz.

As the Suns look to build on their recent success, here’s the latest on Bledsoe, from Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times:

  • NBA sources tell Woelfel that if the Bucks and Suns were to make a deal involving Bledsoe, Phoenix would likely ask for Malcolm Brogdon, plus either John Henson or Mirza Teletovic. Milwaukee has had interest in Bledsoe over the last few years, but is reluctant to part with Brogdon, the reigning Rookie of the Year, per Woelfel.
  • According to Woelfel, the Bucks are – for now – dangling Matthew Dellavedova, but he’s not of much interest to the Suns — Phoenix remains focused on Brogdon.
  • The Suns are eyeing young guards, and are also intrigued by Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay. According to two NBA officials, the Nuggets and Bucks are viewed as “the leaders in the Bledsoe sweepstakes,” writes Woelfel.
  • Those same two sources tell Woelfel that a number of other teams have internally discussed the idea of making a play for Bledsoe, including the Clippers, Celtics, and Heat.

Latest On Eric Bledsoe

It’s been a busy day on the Eric Bledsoe front. After the point guard posted a tweet expressing his displeasure with his situation on Sunday, the Suns indicated that Bledsoe wouldn’t play in Monday night’s game against Sacramento, and it sounds like he may not suit up at all for Phoenix going forward, as the club looks to trade him.

Bledsoe has been linked to the Bucks and Knicks, among other teams, with the Suns reportedly seeking Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez from New York. However, the Knicks aren’t eager to move either player. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are also said to have interest in Bledsoe, with Denver and Phoenix discussing a deal that would involve Emmanuel Mudiay.

While we wait to see if anything comes of any of those rumors, here’s the latest on Bledsoe:

  • According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), Bledsoe actually had multiple meeting with the Suns before the season to discuss the possibility of a trade, so it’s not as if his dissatisfaction just developed within the last few days.
  • Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders provides an update on the Suns‘ talks with the Nuggets, reporting that Kenneth Faried has emerged as part of a hypothetical package. That’s not a real surprise, since Faried doesn’t seem completely happy in Denver, and his contract would be useful for salary-matching purposes.
  • A Faried/Mudiay package is the first idea proposed by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton in his Insider-only article examining trade possibilities. Although Pelton also puts forth trade ideas involving the Magic, Cavaliers, and a few other teams, he suggests that the Nuggets are the most logical landing spot for Bledsoe “by a wide margin.”
  • Charles Curtis of USA Today makes a case for the Sixers as the best trade partner for the Suns, while Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News explains why the Mavericks aren’t a fit.

Suns, Nuggets Discussed Bledsoe Deal

The Suns and Nuggets have discussed a deal that would send Emmanuel Mudiay along with other pieces to Phoenix in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). It’s unclear if the talks are ongoing or whether the idea of swapping point guards was merely discussed by the two franchises.

It seems clear that the Suns will at some point find a trade partner for their disgruntled point guard. Over the weekend, Bledsoe expressed his desire to no longer be part of the team via social media, tweeting “I don’t want to be here” right before the Suns fired coach Earl Watson. The point guard apparently tried to walk his comments back by telling GM Ryan McDonough that he meant his physical location at the time. The executive wasn’t amused.

“He said he was at a hair salon… I didn’t believe that to be true. He won’t be with us going forward, “ the GM said via ABC15 Sports out of Arizona (Twitter link).

Sam Amico of Amico Hoops hears confirms that Bledsoe is being shopped around the league with a rival executive telling the scribe that “[Bledsoe] will not play another game for [Phoenix].”

Bledsoe appears to be unhappy with the franchise’s rebuilding phase and Denver may be a good fit for him should the team deal him. The Nuggets made several offseason moves with an eye on competing this season, though point guard remains a problem area for the team. Denver recently waived Jameer Nelson—their staring point guard for parts of last season—and inserted Jamal Murray into the first unit. In two games this season, the 2016 No. 7 overall pick has been inconsistent, recording four turnovers while accounting for four assists in 40 minutes of action.

Several other teams have also expressed interest in Bledsoe. In addition to the Nuggets, the Knicks, Bucks, Clippers, and Blazers have been linked to the point guard.

Nuggets Exercise 2018/19 Options On Five Players

The Nuggets entered the offseason with decisions to make on five team options for the 2018/19 season, and the team has elected to pick up all five of those options, according to RealGM’s log of official NBA transactions. Here are the details on the rookie-scale team options exercised this week by Denver:

The moves ensure that Mudiay, Murray, Lyles, Hernangomez, and Beasley are now locked up to guaranteed contracts through at least 2019. The numbers listed above reflect the cap hits on Denver’s books, and not necessarily the players’ exact salaries, since players on rookie contracts received pay bumps as a result of the new CBA.

Mudiay and Lyles will be eligible for rookie scale extensions during next year’s offseason, and then will be on track for restricted free agency in 2019 if the Nuggets don’t extend them in 2018. Murray, Hernangomez, and Beasley, meanwhile, will have fourth-year options for 2019/20 for Denver to decide on during next year’s offseason. If those options are picked up, the trio will be extension-eligible in 2019 and RFA-eligible in 2020.

With those five 2018/19 options exercised, the Nuggets now have approximately $73.4MM in guaranteed salaries on their cap for the ’18/19 season, per Basketball Insiders. That number isn’t exorbitant, but it could skyrocket before next July — it doesn’t include potential player options for Wilson Chandler ($12.8MM) or Darrell Arthur ($7.5MM) or possible extensions for Gary Harris or Will Barton.

That total for 2018/19 also doesn’t include Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets have an inexpensive team option on Jokic for next season, but may opt to turn it down and negotiate with him as a restricted free agent, rather than exercising it and having him reach unrestricted free agency a year later.

Kenneth Faried Uneasy With Backup Role

Kenneth Faried comes into Nuggets training camp as a backup and he’s not happy about it, as he told Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm and CBSSports.com and other media members. Faried, who can play either power forward or center, strongly suggested that if he doesn’t play enough minutes, then he should be dealt. (Twitter links).

“If this team doesn’t want or respect me enough to play me the minutes, then I understand that. Maybe I go somewhere else,” he said.

Denver upgraded its frontcourt by signing Hawks free agent Paul Millsap to a three-year, $90.5MM contract.  The Nuggets have Nikola Jokic, a finalist for Most Improved Player in the league last season, at center. Wilson Chandler is slotted a small forward.

Faried isn’t surprised by the Nuggets’ thinking, but refuses to view himself as a reserve.

“I’ll just put this out there. I. Am. A. Starter,” he said (Twitter link).

Faried was in and out of the lineup last season when he battled a back injury. He appeared in 61 games, 34 as a starter, while averaging a career-low 9.6 PPG and 7.6 RPG in 21.2 MPG. He came off the bench just 17 times during the first five seasons of his career. There were unspecified teams reportedly interested in Faried when Millsap announced he would join the Nuggets.

Faried, who is averaging 11.9 PPG and 8.5 RPG in his career, is signed through next season. He’ll make $12.9MM this season and $13.76MM next season.

Gary Harris is the team’s starting shooting guard but there will be an open competition at point guard, Moore adds (Twitter link).

Emmanuel Mudiay, the team’s 2015 lottery pick, has been erratic in his first two seasons. He’ll be challenged by second-year man Jamal Murray, with veteran Jameer Nelson presenting a fallback option.

Stein’s Latest: George, Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets

News broke Sunday that the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Pacers had discussed a three-way deal that would have sent Paul George to the Cavs and Kevin Love to Denver ahead of the draft. As we wrote about earlie, one variation of the potential deal would have sent Kenneth Faried to Cleveland as well.

In an article published at ESPN shortly thereafter, Marc Stein – who sent the initial tweet Sunday night – goes into more details, sharing information about the pre-draft conversations that took place surrounding the Pacers forward.

Here are some highlights from Stein’s latest piece, co-written with Haynes:

  • While the conversations between the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Pacers didn’t amount to anything before the draft, Cleveland haven’t abandoned its pursuit of the two-way All-Star. The Cavs legitimately believe that they could convince George to abandon his dreams of playing for his hometown Lakers, something he is expected to pursue when he hits free agency in 2018.
  • In addition to Cleveland’s ongoing pursuit and the Celtics discussions that came to light on draft day, Stein and Haynes note that the Rockets and Spurs both aggressively pursued George deals before the draft as well.
  • The Nuggets are looking to upgrade at power forward and it’s the reason why Love was included in the possible three-team deal. Denver similarly intends to make plays for pending free agents Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap.
  • All of Faried, Wilson Chandler and Emmanuel Mudiay are said to be available. Big man Nikola Jokic and second-year guard Jamal Murray are supposedly untouchable.
  • The pair also confirm what we wrote about on Friday following a Joe Vardon column at Cleveland.com; the Cavs are expected to pursue Carmelo Anthony should he be bought out by the Knicks.

Trade Rumors: Noah, Josh Jackson, Bledsoe, Mudiay

The Knicks would like to unload Joakim Noah‘s salary in any deal involving Kristaps Porzingis, according to a post by Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Noah was considered a major disappointment in his first year in New York after signing a four-year, $72MM deal last summer. Injuries and a suspension for violating the NBA drug policy limited him to 46 games, and he averaged just 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per night. Noah still has three years and $55MM left on his contract.

There’s more from a day filled with trade rumors:

  • Several teams are trying to convince the Suns to trade Josh Jackson, but Phoenix plans to keep the pick, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The Kansas forward was projected as a top three selection, but slipped to fourth behind Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum. Phoenix, which is loaded with backcourt players, can use the help at forward.
  • The Suns aren’t likely to trade Eric Bledsoe today, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix. The team reportedly had discussions with Denver earlier today on a possible deal. Bledsoe, 27, will make $29.5MM over the next two seasons.
  • The Nuggets called several teams to gauge interest in Emmanuel Mudiay, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link), who notes that New York has passed on Mudiay before.

Nuggets, Suns Discuss Bledsoe, Mudiay

6:01pm: Discussions between the Suns and Bulls on Bledsoe involved the No. 16 overall pick, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

5:39pm: The Suns currently have no trades on tap, and are preparing to use the No. 4 pick in the draft, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge.

5:25pm: The Nuggets and Suns have discussed a trade that would send Eric Bledsoe to Denver, with Emmanuel Mudiay and the No. 13 pick going to Phoenix, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). No deal is imminent, but talks remain “fluid,” per Haynes.

ESPN’s Chad Ford first reported that the Nuggets and Bulls were engaged with the Suns today on possible Bledsoe trade scenarios, while Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times tweeted that Phoenix was still looking to make a “major splash” with Bledsoe and/or the No. 4 pick.

According to Ford, if the Suns use the fourth overall pick on De’Aaron Fox, it will likely signal that they found a taker on Bledsoe. If Phoenix isn’t able to complete a Bledsoe trade tonight, Josh Jackson is the more probable pick at No. 4, assuming he’s still on the board, says Ford.

Denver would be an interesting landing spot for Bledsoe, who averaged a career-best 21.1 PPG and 6.3 APG in 66 games last year, before he was benched down the stretch by the tanking Suns. Although Mudiay is a former seventh overall pick, his development has been slow so far, leaving the Nuggets seeking a possible long-term alternative at the point guard position.

Texas Notes: Ntilikina, Mudiay, Paul, Rockets

Several Mavericks executives have traveled to Europe over the past month to watch French point guard Frank Ntilikina, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. At 6’5″, Ntilikina is among the bigger point guards in the draft, and he possesses athleticism and skill to go with his size. Dallas is believed to be targeting point guards after waiving Deron Williams in February so he could sign with a contender. The Mavericks hold the No. 9 pick, and Sefko expects Ntilikina to be among the players considered, along with North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr., Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen and Gonzaga’s Zach Collins.

There’s more news today out of Texas:

  • The Mavericks have a better shot at solving their point guard problems through the draft than by trading for someone like Emmanuel Mudiay, writes Matt Mosley of The Dallas Morning News. The seventh pick in the 2015 draft, Mudiay was a heralded prospect but has experienced shooting problems through his first two NBA seasons. He is a 37% shooter from the field and was stuck behind Jameer Nelson in the Nuggets’ rotation. Mosley says Ntilikina or Markkanen would be a better gamble with the No. 9 pick.
  • Signing Chris Paul may not get the Spurs any closer to challenging the Warriors for Western Conference supremacy, argues Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Adding the All-Star point guard would requiring sacrificing someone like LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol or Danny Green in a trade, and it would destroy the salary flexibility the team has set up for next summer.
  • North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks was the biggest name to attend a pre-draft workout for the Rockets this week, relays Tom Miller of The Grand Forks Herald. Also at the session were Quinton Hooker of North Dakota, Paris Lee of Illinois State, JaJuan Johnson of Marquette, Kavin Gilder-Tilbury of Texas State and Tacko Fall of Central Florida, who decided to withdraw from the draft and return to school. “My agent hadn’t said anything about the Rockets’ interest,” Hooker said. “I was anticipating at least one [NBA tryout]. But for the last month, I’ve just been waiting. It was definitely a humbling experience to get that first one and show my talents.” The Rockets own picks 43 and 45 in next month’s draft.

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