After trading out of the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft earlier in the night, the Denver Nuggets were not done dealing. This time, they struck a pact with the Memphis Grizzlies, sending center Kosta Koufos to Memphis in exchange for the 55th overall pick and forward Darrell Arthur.
Koufos started 81 games for the Nuggets in the 2012-13 season as one of ex-coach George Karl‘s go-to players on the team, and who was favored over JaVale McGee. Koufos and his 8.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game were a large reason behind Karl’s dismissal due to his refusal to play McGee.
It has been widely reported that McGee will be the starter next season, which meant that it was only a matter of time before the Nuggets found a deal for Koufos, especially after his poor performance in the playoffs.
Arthur appeared in 59 games for the Grizzlies last season while averaging 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. It remains to be seen if he can contribute on a consistent basis after four seasons in the NBA, but do not be surprised if he is later included as a throw-in as part of a much larger deal that nets the Nuggets a quality player.
Koufos and Arthur’s salaries are very similar at about $3 million each for the next two seasons. This trade also suggests that Timofey Mozgov will be retained by the Nuggets to be their backup center.
Also included in this deal was the 55th overall pick, which may as well be called “Mr. Irrelevant,” but his actual name is Joffrey Lauvergne and he is originally from Mulhouse, France.
Lauvergne was the second French player selected by the Nuggets in this draft and he currently plays for Partizan Belgrade, a Serbian team. While the prospect of having another Frenchman on this team may excite last year’s first-round draft pick Evan Fournier, Lauvergne is likely to be stashed overseas for a couple of years.
The 21-year old Lauvergne had said as recently as May that he would return to play for Partizan Belgrade next year. The Nuggets honestly do not need any more big men, particularly ones that would be hard-pressed to find playing time on this exceptionally deep team.
All in all, the Nuggets had a semi-productive draft night as they were able to rid themselves of Koufos while picking up dead weight in Arthur and a player to stash in Europe for a few years, while failing to address their 3-point shooting need. However, the Nuggets have checked two items off of their tough offseason decisions list so far.