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Grading The Deal: Nene, McGee, Young On The Move

In what likely stands as the most fascinating deal of the day, the Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers made a three-team trade that actually consisted of two separate two-teamers occurring at the same time. Here’s the facts:

- Denver trades Nene and receives JaVale McGee

- Washington trades Nick Young and JaVale McGee and receives Nene and New Orleans’ 2015 second round pick

- The Clippers trade New Orleans’ 2015 second round pick and receive Nick Young

Strangely enough for deadline day, the trade made a good deal of sense for each team, albeit with some quirks and flaws.

Denver accomplished two goals at once by freeing up space to sign Wilson Chandler to a deal he would be happy with while taking a flyer on a super-high ceiling true center in McGee. As long as he plays the rest of the season, the Nuggets should give themselves (and the rest of the league) a much better idea of what The Big Secret can be on a team with substantially less knuckleheads. Even with the talent and chemisty downgrade from Nene to McGee coupled with the reintroduction of Chandler, the Nuggets should still make the playoffs and be a somewhat tough out, at least compared to the post-deadline of the second tier Eastern Conference teams Miami and Chicago will slaughter.

At this point, the biggest questions here are whether Denver’s money is better spent on Nene or Wilson Chander (possibly with McGee). Considering the underwhelming play of Nene this season, I lean more on the side of the Nuggets given their current talent and salary situation. While getting a true center can be tough, they are almost incomprehensibly deep at the other four positions now and should be able to pick and choose among those guys while having the money to retain those worth keeping.

The other major question is where McGee ends up. According to reports, McGee and his camp will be asking for a metric ton of money in free agency. Despite that, I would love to be in Denver’s position because other NBA teams appear reticent to offer McGee the money he feels he’s worth. Should that be the case, having RFA power could prove incredibly useful like it did for the Hawks with Josh Smith coming off his rookie deal. It seems wholly unlikely that a team offers McGee more than DeAndre Jordan procured last summer and even that could be a stretch.

Denver’s Grade: B+ 

Washington took an interesting gamble. At $13 million per year for another four seasons, it could be a little high for a man of Nene’s abilities and flaws, but Washington has done a lot worse in their past. If he stays healthy, Nene gives the interior an anchor like the team has on the perimeter in John Wall, with Nene helping make Wall a better point guard by virtue of his offensive skillset. Even though Nene (29) is older than the rest of the players Washington is building around, he likely makes more sense with those guys than McGee because of his more complete offensive repertoire and relative sanity. The Wizards have plenty of bounce and athleticism at other positions, thus enabling them to have a more grounded center like Nene.

The team did not get a ton for Nick Young, though it seems unlikely that they could have garnered much more for him than a future second. Waiting until 2015 for the pick makes this more of a dump than a trade with an immediate return and I do not think Washington worried one bit about that. Getting rid of Young and McGee significantly reduced the knucklehead quotient on the team and some good play could actually get the team some buzz other than being a league-wide punchline. Any positive attention would help a team that desperately needs to add talent through both free agency and the draft, another reason why a slight overpay for Nene does not sting all that much- they were going to have gobs of cap space anyway.

Washington’s grade: C+ 

The Clippers made a small but necessary move in procuring Young for a 2015 second round pick. Much has been made of his flaws (lack of defensive effort and passing), yet his assets are really all the Clippers need from a shooting guard given their other talent. Having a more complete shooting guard would be a nice bonus and they may have the opportunity to get Mr. Right during the offseason. In the interim, they gave up a small, distant asset to get a player with skills that fit what they need and flaws that Chris Paul could go a long way towards helping. An imperfect deal at a low cost with minimal long-term downside makes complete sense for a team gunning for seeding and success in the playoffs.

Clippers’ grade: A-

 

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