What’s Will Barton worth to the Denver Nuggets?
At least a first-round pick.
Probably more, though.
Now he’s being praised after a breakout season that landed him in the thick of the conversation for postseason awards, that had other teams offering first-round picks to nab him, and that had opponents highlighting him on scouting reports as a player to stop.
If you’ll recall, the Nuggets sent Alonzo Gee and Afflalo to the Portland Trail Blazers in February of 2015 in exchange for Victor Claver, Thomas Robinson, Barton and a 2016 lottery-protected first-round pick (Malik Beasley). So yeah, they won that deal. And they subsequently have little reason to trade Barton, following his breakout campaign with them last season, during which he was viewed as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Sure, the Nuggets have a glut of wings. They will need to consolidate their assets, preferably into a star, at some point. They can’t keep 15 NBA-level contributors happy for long. But Barton, 25, is on a cost-controlled contract that will pay him just over $3.5 million in each of the next two seasons.
Salary-matching limitations won’t allow the Nuggets to acquire anyone of significance using him alone, so he’ll need to be paired with more expensive players, thus demanding interested suitors increase their bid even further. Failing that, any deal will need to be for a first-round pick and/or high-end prospect. The Nuggets have already rejected first-round overtures, so it’ll probably take a top-five selection, if that, or a mid-end choice plus a younger project with more long-term upside just to get the ball rolling in negotiations.