It wasn’t too long ago since the Indiana Pacers sent the Denver Nuggets a trade offer that would involve switching centers JaVale McGee for Roy Hibbert. McGee was a non-starter for the Nuggets and Hibbert was failing to live up to his big contract in Indiana. The Nuggets knew the potential in McGee could be of value, with his high level of athleticism and ability to pump up a crowd with big plays.
Although it didn’t really make sense a year and a half ago, when the trade was proposed, could it make more sense now?
As far as logistics go, a straight up trade wouldn’t work. The 125-percent-plus-$100,000 rule in the new collective bargaining agreement doesn’t allow that kind of trade to happen. Since JaVale McGee is scheduled to be paid $11.25 million next year and Roy Hibbert is due $14.9 million next year, the straight-up-trade would fall roughly $800,000 short of being an NBA-compliant deal.
With that being said, in order for the Nuggets to make it work, they would need to add to that deal to fill the empty space. With the Paul George injury, the Pacers are in desperate need of a small forward. This could be a good building ground for the Nuggets to start adding a player – or players – to the deal.
It seems as though the Indiana Pacers have finally grown tired of Hibbert’s inconsistent play, especially after this offseason, after reports indicated that the Indiana center was involved in trade rumors. It was a tough playoff run for the Indiana Pacers last season. The inconsistency in Hibbert’s play took a huge toll on the team. After barely making it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, they were eliminated by the Miami Heat.
You’re probably wondering by now what benefit this trade would have on Hibbert. The answer to that is very simple: A fresh start with new scenery. Plus, it just seems like the perfect fit for the 7-footer. The Denver Nuggets would be a great place for Hibbert to clear his mind and get back on his feet. Not to mention, the Nuggets second-year coach, Brian Shaw, was actually an assistant for the Indiana Pacers. Shaw is a coach that has worked with Hibbert closely, knows how he plays his game and knows how to get the most out of his game.
What about the Nuggets? How does the trade benefit them? Well, that’s quite simple as well. The main issue with the Nuggets is their defense. Roy Hibbert would bring them reliable and stable defense, while also giving them a solid on-the-block scorer. Although he did struggle with his scoring touch throughout last season’s playoff games, Hibbert is still a very dominant man down low. The Nuggets are in desperate need of someone who can control the offensive paint. Hibbert would easily give them that.
His defense would be the main part of this trade that would attract the Denver Nuggets. Hibbert would give them everything they need on the defensive end of the court. He’s always in the right spots in the defensive rotations. Hibbert has also already perfected the verticality principle the Shaw was trying to get the Nuggets’ big men last year, while also combining the extreme talent of blocking opponent’s shots. To prove that, over the last three years, Hibbert has averaged 2.2 blocks per game.
The point is, the Nuggets are in desperate need of everything this deal would bring them. And with Hibbert, coach Shaw would be the perfect man to bring out this player’s best basketball talent.
As for the Indiana Pacers, they would receive exactly what interested them a year and a half ago when they made the proposal. They would get McGee from the Nuggets, which would bring them a very active big man who is highly athletic, can block shots at an elite level and runs the court like a gazelle. The Pacers need some youth and athleticism on their roster and adding JaVale McGee.
Not to mention, the addition of a replacement for Paul George would help them tremendously. A possible small forward that the Denver Nuggets could send to Indiana would be Wilson Chandler. He would help right away and give the Pacers scoring and perimeter defense, two things they will be lacking with the injury to George and departure of Lance Stephenson. In addition, Chandler’s contract would give the Pacers a little bit of financial wiggle room in course they need it.
Plus, on the Nuggets end, they would take back a small forward as well, which would help replace Wilson Chandler. A possible match for that scenario would be the ex-CU standout Chris Copeland. If the trade were to go down like that, McGee and Chandler for Hibbert and Copeland, would cost roughly $17 million both ways. If the Nuggets add Copeland, it would give them a nice option for scoring. Also, his contract will expire after next season. Hibbert, on the other hand, has a trade kicker on his contract, which would be paid to him if the Pacers end up trading him away.
Taking a look at the centers that fill up the Western Conference, the list is full of dominant players. Players like Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Nikola Pekovic and Tyson Chandler. Since the Nuggets will be forced to square off against these centers, they should start preparing themselves now. Adding an All-Defensive Team caliber player like Hibbert is would help shore up their front line and help defense down low.
The Nuggets are looking to make the playoffs this year. Last year was highly disappointing and quite frankly, they should have done better. However, with a lot of important players coming off injuries and a nicely decided draft day, the Nuggets are looking good for next season. Of course, adding Roy Hibbert and ridding away the big contract of JaVale McGee would do wonders for the team. It would place them back in contending status and move them one step closer to reaching the NBA Finals for a chance to bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy.