New Orleans Pelicans, per the Denver Post, demanded that guard Jamal Murray be part of any deal for Davis to go to Colorado. The Nuggets refused to include the 22-year-old in the trade, making any agreement impossible between Pelicans general manager David Griffin and the team that finished second in the Western Conference in 2018/19.
The seventh overall pick in 2016, Murray had a breakout year in 2018/19. He posted career-highs in points, assists, rebounds and field goal attempts. Denver saw off the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, Murray was a huge part of that, scoring over 20 in four of the seven games which were all Nuggets victories.
For all Murray and Nikola Jokic’s best efforts, Denver fell in the second round as they took the Portland Trail Blazers to seven. Murray excelled once again, exploding for 34 points in each of games three and four. His Game Four display kept the Nuggets in the series.
It’s no surprise that Denver were unwilling to give up Murray, who was working very well with All-NBA centre Nikola Jokic. Pairing Jokic and Davis was a frightening prospect, but not something worth giving up Murray for when Davis was very likely to walk in a year.
Davis is ultimately going to be a Los Angeles Laker, just as many expected. The Lakers are parting with a bucket of picks, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, and that’s a price that only makes sense for teams who are confident he will extend – which the Nuggets are not.
The other thing that would’ve made this a questionable move for Denver was depth. The Nuggets were good not just because of Jokic’s brilliance and Murray’s breakout, but they had depth unlike plenty of other contenders (and that’s before Michael Porter Jr. has taken the court).
It would have been oh-so fun to see Jokic and Davis on the floor together. It might have taken Denver all the way to the NBA Finals from a changing Western Conference.
The Nuggets made the right choice holding onto Murray, though, who could well be an All-Star in 2019/20. The Lakers might have LeBron James and Davis, but with their depth and Murray still expected to improve, don’t rule out the Nuggets finishing with a better record next season.