The Denver Nuggets are 21-16 at the All-Star break, good for the sixth-best record in the West. But the questions of how they get to the next level, and who can step up beside Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, still linger.
The Nuggets are most certainly a buyer as the Mar. 25 trade deadline nears. The options are plenty, and according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer they have inquired with the Orlando Magic about Terrence Ross.
Orlando (13-23) is a deadline seller, headlined by heavy rumored interest in Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. But Ross, with two more years left on a fairly friendly contract, could be an appealing target for contending teams.
If the Nuggets had their way, guard Gary Harris would be a prominent part of the equation. But he has played one game since the calendar flipped to February, as he can’t seem to shake a groin injury (left adductor strain). And when he has been on the floor, Harris has not been good this season (9.7 points per game; 32 percent from 3-point range).
Ross is definitely a streaky player, as a shooter/scorer who comes off the bench might tend to be. But he is averaging a career-best 15.5 points per game this season, while shooting 41 percent from the floor. He went into the break on a high with 28 points against Atlanta, so that helps his trade value. Over the larger sample of his last 12 games, in a further bit of good timing for the Magic if they want to trade him, he’s averaging 19 points per game on over 36 percent shooting from the arc. In six of those 12 games, he has scored at least 20 points.
Ross is making $13.5 million this year, then $12.5 million in 2021-22 and $11.5 million in 2022-23.
Fournier’s expiring contract makes him a viable target for the Nuggets as well. A simple 1-for-1 deal sending Harris to Orlando for Fournier works (h/t to ESPN’s Trade Machine). But if the Magic would add another cheap piece to line up the money, a deal involving Harris for Ross works too.
More simply, a 1-for-1 deal with the Nuggets sending Will Barton to the Magic for Ross works nearly perfectly in terms of money. That deal is easiest the path for Denver to make the sneaky-good addition of Ross for the stretch run.