NBA Trade News: Portland Sends Mason Plumlee to Denver for Jusuf Nurkic
The Portland Trail Blazers have sent starting center Mason Plumlee and a future second-round pick to the Denver Nuggets for young big man Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round draft selection in a deal completed on Sunday.
Portland now has three draft picks in the coming 2017 NBA Draft, which is noted to be "talent-rich," according to Yahoo Sports. Aside from its pick, the Blazers will have Cleveland's selection and Memphis' pick via this trade with the Nuggets. The team included their 2018 second-round selection in the trade package to Denver to get Nurkic.
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Blazers coach Terry Stotts gets a younger big man in Nurkic, who at 22 years old is four years younger than Plumlee. The Bosnia and Herzegovina native was the 16th overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2014 draft, but he was traded to Denver on draft night.
The former Croatian League Finals MVP is known to be more skilled on the offensive end of the floor who takes advantage of his size and strength when it comes to interior plays. Portland hopes that they can develop his rim-protection skills and overall defensive abilities as those are the things currently needed by the Blazers.
Nurkic is currently out of favor in Nuggets head coach Mike Malone's system as Nikola Jokic has been the coach's favored starter since taking over in June of 2015. He is currently averaging 8.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 0.8 blocks in only 17.9 minutes of playing time per game.
According to Fox Sports, Nurkic "can provide the physicality" that the Blazers "desperately needed" down low as he is more "comfortable putting his shoulder into defenders and finishing at the rim."
Meanwhile, Plumlee is a veteran center which is still relatively young at 26 years old. He was a former Duke standout and was drafted 22nd overall by the Brooklyn Nets in 2013. He was traded to the Blazers in the summer of 2015 along with the draft rights to Pat Connaughton in exchange for Steve Blake and the draft rights to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Plumlee has been the Blazers starting center for the last three seasons, including this one, and is averaging 11.1 points, 8.0 boards, 4.0 assists, and 1.2 blocks in 28.1 minutes per game so far this season.