The Portland Trail Blazers traded center Mason Plumlee and a future second-round draft pick to the Denver Nuggets for center Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round pick, league sources told The Vertical.
Portland owns three picks in the talent-rich 2017 NBA draft, including its own, Cleveland’s and Memphis’ via the deal with Denver. Portland will send a 2018 second-round pick, acquired from Memphis, to the Nuggets as part of the deal, sources said.
For the Blazers, Nurkic gives them a talented offensive player with size and strength (6-foot-11, 270 pounds) whose development on the defensive end will be crucial to his ultimate impact in Portland.
Plumlee is a more established center whose ability to pass the ball is an ideal complement to burgeoning star Nikola Jokic on the Nuggets’ frontline. Denver is starting to rework its roster to build around Jokic’s unique talents.
Plumlee, 26, is a restricted free agent this summer, and the Blazers were apprehensive about delivering him the kind of a rich contract extension that would’ve thrust Portland deep into the payroll luxury tax. Portland has $130.7 million in guaranteed contracts for the 2017-18 season.
Portland had been weighing the market on several possible center acquisitions, but settled on the Nurkic-Plumlee deal on Sunday morning, league sources said.
Nurkic, 22, had been eager to find a new destination after falling out of the playing rotation and the Nuggets’ long-term plans.
Nurkic was the 16th overall pick in a 2014 NBA draft in which Jokic was selected by Denver at No. 41.
Plumlee is averaging 11.1 points and eight rebounds for the Blazers this season.
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