Grade the Trade: Raptors pull off blockbuster with Nuggets in latest proposal

The defending champions lost early, so they may be open to a deal. Should the Toronto Raptors consider this trade proposal?
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves and Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves and Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets / C. Morgan Engel/GettyImages
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As the Toronto Raptors survey the league they will be looking for opportunities. Which teams underperformed, which teams are facing financial difficulties, which players took a step forward to make others expendable, which players are hidden gems waiting to be uncovered?

The defending champion Denver Nuggets present one such opportunity after a surprising seven-game loss in the second round to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nuggets have had the same starting lineup for the past few seasons and it has performed as one of the very best in the league, but it wasn't good enough this year.

One of the reasons the Nuggets fell short was that they didn't have any options available to them if their starting group wasn't working. They lost their bench depth last offseason after winning the title, including their sixth man Bruce Brown. Brown is now on the Toronto Raptors and could be a candidate to be traded back to the Nuggets, either to start or to be a super sub once again.

Could such a deal between the two teams be worked out? There are paths to one, but it must be built with care. The Nuggets are dancing with the second tax apron, so if they aggregate players in a trade or take back more salary than they send out they will be hard-capped, potentially restricting their ability to re-sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Ideally, any trade they make would need to involve sending out a single player, one who makes more than Bruce Brown.

For the Raptors, however, their wiggle room to take back salary would be limited after picking up Brown's team option to execute such a trade. Their most likely path to a trade would be sending back players useful to the Nuggets while not exceeding the salary sent back.

It just so happens that such a trade could be built, and it has the look of one that would be intriguing for both sides. Let's dig into the details and see whether the Raptors would pull the trigger on the trade.