Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets

Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets


Head coach Michael Malone of the Denver Nuggets.

The Denver Nuggets have very few roster flaws, returning much of the same group that went to and won the NBA Finals last season. However, they struggled to shoot the deep ball in the postseason, connecting on just 33.4% of their looks.

That was good for 11th out of the 16-team playoff field.

With an offseason to make the necessary changes but limited options thanks to stricter rules under the CBA, a trade could be in order.

“Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth… must handle with care the team’s championship window. So we’re here to help: swing a trade for Wizards guard Corey Kispert,” wrote Denver Gazzette’s Paul Klee on May 26. “The Nuggets need outside shooting. Kispert’s three-point shot belongs in a how-to video. He’s 25 years old and better fits a contender (Denver) than a rebuild (Washington).”

Corey Kispert came off the bench SIZZLING in the first half

22 PTS
8/12 FG
5/8 3PT

MEM/WAS: t.co/WfH3FJ6tZs

Kispert was the No. 15 overall pick of the 2021 draft.

The 6-foot-7 swingman averaged a career-high 13.4 points per game last season, shooting 38.3% from beyond the arc. And that was a step down from his career-best 42.4% mark on slightly fewer attempts in 2022-23.

Corey Kispert Could Be Plug-&-Play Trade Target for Nuggets

Kispert is going into the final year of his four-year, $16.4 million contract and carries a $5.7 million cap hit in 2024-25.

Kispert will hit restricted free agency in 2025, essentially granting two years of team control.

“Here’s a hunch Kispert is itching to join a selfless, beautiful offense like he had at Gonzaga,” Klee wrote. “Plug him alongside Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. and the Nuggets suddenly have three outside threats around Nikola Jokic. Plus, Corey’s father, Craig, played his high school ball for Denver Christian icon Dick Katte.”

Corey Kispert is now 2nd in the NBA in FG% (64.2%) on drives (min 4 a game) per t.co/cZT1kGbD3s

He’s impressed with a 62.7 TS% this year but is only shooting 29.2% (38.1% last yr) on open 3s

If that number catches up and sustains, the Wizards may have a real player

Kispert would have ranked second in three-pointers attempted on the Nuggets last season. And while his efficiency would have landed him in eighth place, only Porter was more efficient on as many attempts.

The Nuggets could also lose their third and fourth-leading shooters (in terms of volume) in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Jackson to free agency this offseason.

But bringing Kispert could be tricky, especially if the Nuggets stay above the second tax apron.

Nuggets Have to Thread Needle Financially

“From now until June 30, Denver is a first-apron team. It is not allowed to take back more money in a trade. If it aggregates contracts or sends cash in a trade, then the $189.6 million second apron for next season will get triggered,” ESPN’s Bobby Marks wrote. “They will exceed the second apron if the current roster remains in place.”

The Nuggets could cobble together a package for Kispert that features a couple of smaller contracts to match his salary, per league rules. But triggering the hard cap for a player that is so close to hitting the market is risky.

Even with Kispert’s Bird Rights in free agency, the true cost-per-dollar value as a luxury tax team could make the deal unpalatable for Booth and Co.

Denver also has to plan for extensions for Murray and possibly Aaron Gordon.

The Nuggets acquired Caldwell-Pope in 2022. It might make sense to go back to that well to rejuvenate a roster still built to win now. That is even with youngsters Christian Braun and Peyton Watson taking steps forward this season.

Josh Buckhalter covers the NBA and NFL for Heavy.com. He has covered both leagues since 2016, including bylines at FanSided, Last Word on Sports and Clocker Sports. He’s based in Villa Park, Illinois. Follow Josh on Twitter and Instagram: @JoshGBuck More about Josh Buckhalter

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