There will be a good old fashioned Western Conference big man swap between the Nuggets and Blazers, as The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports Denver and Portland have agreed to a trade sending Jusuf Nurkic and Memphis’ 2017 first-round pick to the Blazers for Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-round pick.
The news was confirmed by Portland, which announced the deal via Twitter and had some fun with Wojnarowski’s reporting.
The Blazers and Nuggets are both vying for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, with the Nuggets currently holding on to the eighth spot by one game over Portland. The initial reaction is that the Nuggets get the better of this deal in the immediate as they gain a quality player that can be flexible with his position, which is big considering their roster construction.
By dealing Nurkic for Plumlee, the Nuggets cleared space for emerging star Nikola Jokic to take on an even larger role. Plumlee, who can play either frontcourt spot, can play alongside Jokic at the four or in his stead at the five.
For Portland, Nurkic is a bigger, more traditional five than Plumlee and they add another first-round pick (their third for 2017, including the Cavs pick and their own). Nurkic is also under one more year of control at a cheaper price than Plumlee, who is set to be a restricted free agent this offseason. Nurkic will make just shy of $3 million in 2017-18, and for a Blazers team that is close to capped out after signing the likes of C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe to big deals this offseason, that extra year of control for cheap is important.