Jusuf Nurkic requested a trade from the Denver Nuggets in April of 2016 and again in December before he was moved to Portland in February of 2017.
Nikola Jokic had emerged as the Nuggets' starting center during the 15-16 season while Nurkic was rehabilitating his left knee.
The Nuggets attempted to mend the relationship with Nurkic and promised he would open the season as a starter, but he realized there was a catch.
“In the first game, I only played three quarters,” Nurkić said. “I had 23 points and 9 rebounds. I’m playing a good game, we’re winning and I’m not playing in the fourth quarter? From that point, I could kind of see that something was wrong.”
The Nuggets were attempting to make it work with Nurkic and Jokic playing together, but Malone pulled Nurkic from the starting lineup after 25 games. Nurkic and his agent, Aylton Tesch, requested a trade for a second time.
“I believe you can develop guards together. But two centers? No way,” Nurkić said. “I don’t want to make this a big drama like KD. I was never on the same page with the coach and the front office. It just came to the point where I needed to go. My career was on the line.”
Nurkic received criticism from the local media for how he handled the situation.
“People assume I had an attitude problem and people like to make up stories that paint me as a bad guy,” he explained. “Once I asked for a trade, there were even more rumors that I wasn’t happy. But I shouldn’t be happy! No one in that situation should be happy. I put in the hard work to play and someone was holding me down.”