Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dribbles the ball during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Nov. 16, 2016 in Indianapolis.
The Nuggets discussed a trade before Thursday’s NBA draft with Cleveland and Indiana that would have brought Cavaliers all-star forward Kevin Love to Denver, according to an ESPN report.
That deal did not occur, of course. The Nuggets were active throughout the night in attempting to make a deal for a star-type player, but ultimately made a minor trade. The Nuggets dealt the rights to 13th overall pick Donovan Mitchell to Utah for 6-foot-10, second-year power forward Trey Lyles and the rights to 24th overall pick Tyler Lydon, a 6-9 forward out of Syracuse.
Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations, said following the draft the Nuggets thought they had a deal in place before it fell apart “on the 1-yard line.” Connelly would not specify what player or players the Nuggets would have gained in the deal. It was unclear if he was referencing the three-team discussion that ESPN reported Sunday. The Nuggets also had been linked to various trade discussions that were reported before the draft Thursday, including potential deals for guards Jimmy Butler and Eric Bledsoe.
“We were very far along in one (trade discussion),” Connelly said after the draft. “We thought it was done. At the 11th hour one of the teams involved had a change of heart. While we had countless conversations, there was one in particular we thought was going to take place. It’s never a deal until you have a handshake and a deal, and we never got to that point.”
The reported three-team trade that never occurred would have sent Indiana’s Paul George to Cleveland. George will be a free agent following the 2017-18 season, and his agent already has told the Pacers his client does not plan to re-sign with the team. Ultimately, the discussion was “nothing serious” and “very unlikely” to occur now, according to cleveland.com, which confirmed through an unnamed league source that the three teams discussed a deal before the draft.
The Nuggets vowed after Thursday’s draft that they would continue to be aggressive in pursuing marquee players during the offseason, whether it be through trades or free agency. Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap could be natural free-agent targets as Denver aims to upgrade the power forward spot. Connelly said following the season that the Nuggets also would like to get a deal done this summer with restricted free agent Mason Plumlee, who joined the team in February in a trade with Portland. Danilo Gallinari, who completed his sixth season with Denver in April, is an unrestricted free agent and is likely to attract a number of suitors.