Trade Deadline Marathon: Denver Gears Up for Title Push
Updated: Mar 2
Houston Rockets receive: SG Gary Harris, G RJ Hampton, unprotected 2021 first-round pick
Denver Nuggets receive: SG Victor Oladipo, F PJ Tucker
Why the Rockets would do it:
Houston is an organization that is about to experience a full-on rebuild. Extending Victor Oladipo does not make sense for them in terms of timeline, and it is likely that they will not be interested in giving him the money he will be seeking in free agency.
Taking on Gary Harris’ $20 mil contract for next season isn’t great, but the Rockets receive 2020 first-round pick RJ Hampton and a 2021 unprotected first. At this point, stockpiling draft assets and young pieces is the name of the game for Houston.
Despite only averaging 2.2 points per game in just under nine minutes of nightly action, the 19-year-old Hampton possesses the potential to be a starter at the NBA level. Harris likely becomes a rotational guard in the Rockets’ system, and could be dealt next season as an expiring contract.
Regardless of where the Nuggets’ pick lands in the draft order, a first-rounder is always valuable; Houston can select a solid prospect or attach the pick in a package to land a potential star player or a better pick.
Why the Nuggets would do it:
Simply put, Denver gets better with this trade. Not only does the team rid itself of Harris’ contract, but the Nuggets acquire two expirings in the process.
Though not the same guy he once was pre-injury, Oladipo remains a quality player on both ends of the court. And he is an upgrade over Harris who would fit in nicely with Jamal Murray. (If it doesn’t work out, the Nuggets can let him walk in free agency.)
In the event of a successful partnership, Denver receives his Bird Rights, which will make them the frontrunners this summer in the Oladipo sweepstakes. Additionally, PJ Tucker is on an expiring contract, but his defense and leadership will be extremely valuable for a team with championship aspirations.
Giving up Hampton would sting, but organizations looking to win titles have to gamble at times. With Nikola Jokic having the best season of his career, the Nuggets first-rounder will likely land in the 22-30 range. It is more than justifiable to deal the pick in an attempt to win a chip. Overall, it’s a medium-risk, high-reward for Denver.
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