With the Nuggets Nene out for at least the next 6 weeks, it might be time to consider making a trade. It’s no secret that Denver shopped Marcus Camby during the off-season, hoping to find a younger player that could replace Camby and also get Denver out of the luxury tax. Denver’s urge to avoid the luxury tax is so great that they traded Reggie Evans for the 76er’s Steven Hunter and a throw-in during the off-season – a lopsided trade in Philadelphia’s favor. Clearly, the Nuggets want to get out of luxury tax territory and they’re willing to trade a key big man to do it.
So why not trade Nene for Ron Artest?
It’s no secret that Sacramento needs a big man. During the off-season, they overpaid dramatically for the services of Miki Moore, and first round draft pick Spencer Hawes has yet to play a regular season game. Sacramento is absolutely TERRIBLE this year, so trading away one or all their big names (Artest, Bibby, and Brad Miller) would make sense assuming they could get a quality piece in return. Nene provides a back-to-the-basket player that can play inside-out with Kevin Martin. Maybe Denver throws in a 2nd round pick or a protected 1st rounder, and how could Sacramento say no?
Artest can come into Denver and make an immediate impact. The Nuggets desperately need defense, and Artest would be a lock-down defender that provide steals (feeding the transition game), blocks, rebounding, and some scoring punch. Artest is listed as a SF, but he could easily slide over to PF (as he has done in the past in Sacramento). Besides, Carmelo is so good on the block (and so muscular), he could also slide over to PF and allow Artest to play SF. Don’t forget — Carmelo played PF on the U.S. Olympic team this past summer.
With Artest, Anthony, Allen Iverson, Kenyon Martin, and Marcus Camby, Denver would be the most dangerous and talented team in the league.
If the Nuggets win with Artest, they can re-sign him this summer to a long-term deal. If not, an Artest sign-and-trade shouldn’t be too hard to pull off.
Trading Nene for Artest might seem like a bad deal for Denver, but it’s time to take a look at the facts. Nene has come into camp the last two years overweight, is constantly an injury concern, and is going to be out for at least another 6 weeks (Nene could be out as long as 12 weeks — Bibby has the same injury and his prognosis went from 6 weeks to more than 10 after his surgery was completed). It’s possible that by the time Nene comes back from injury and works himself back into game shape, the playoffs will be starting. Denver can’t expect to beat an elite western conference team if they have to work in a new rotation player less than a month before the first round.
Artest gives Denver everything they need to win right now – a shooter, a defender, a rebounder, and a scrappy bully who can give Denver some swagger. San Antonio had a lot of trouble with Artest in the playoffs a couple of years ago, and Ron-Ron could lock down T-Mac, bang with Utah, and give any scorer in the league trouble. Denver would have two of the best scorers in the league in A.I. and Melo, and two of the best defenders in Artest and Camby. What’s not to love about this deal!!
The risk is great — Artest could show up in Denver and ruin whatever chemistry the team has. Somehow, I think the presence of veterans Camby, A.I., and Kenyon Martin might keep Artest in check, but the possibility still exists. Nene could also go on to become one of the best scoring big men in the league, but to me the question facing the Nuggets is simple.
A.I. has one or two years on his contract, then he’s probably gone. Camby isn’t getting any younger. Why not try to win NOW when you have one of the best scorers of all time, and the defensive player of the year?
Note: Nene is slated to make $8.8 million this year, Artest $7.8 million, so the trade will work (it’s within the CBA mandated 25% salary range).