The Portland Trail Blazers made a surprising move Sunday when they traded Mason Plumlee and a second-round pick to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first reported this trade.
This move is surprising because the Trail Blazers are downgrading at the center position by exchanging Plumlee for Nurkic. Just one game out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, it’s a puzzling move, especially because Nurkic is much worse at protecting the rim and isn’t exactly a beast hauling in rebounds. Also, it’s not like Plumlee is on the books for any hefty amount in his final contract year ($3.37 million in 2017-18).
Landing the first-round pick is great, but the Trail Blazers are not exactly in rebuilding mode just yet. On top of that, they just gave one of their competitors in the west a leg up.
On the other hand, Portland now owns three first-round picks heading into the 2017 NBA Draft, which could lead to significant roster improvements all around.
Tracking the results of this trade in the coming years will be fascinating. The Trail Blazers are doing their best to compete with the best in the west, and they must feel like Plumlee has already plateaued to give up on him at this juncture.