5 keys moves the Nuggets made during Arturas Karnisovas' tenure
The Bulls have their man
With the news that the Bulls are finalizing an agreement to make Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas the organization's new head of basketball operations, let's examine a few notable moves the Nuggets made during his tenure.
Doug McDermott - June 26, 2014
While serving as the assistant general manager in Denver, Karnisovas played a part in draft-night trade between the Nuggets and, funny enough, the Bulls.
The Nuggets traded the rights to Doug McDermott (No. 11 overall) to the Bulls in exchange for the rights to Jusuf Nurkic (No. 16) and Gary Harris (No. 19). McDermott has been a journeyman around the league, while Nukic has developed nicely in Portland (where the Nuggets dispatched him after drafting Nikola Jokic). Harris has turned into the Nuggets starting shooting guard.
Nikola Jokic - June 26, 2014
What a night for the Nuggets. As good as the McDermott trade was for Denver, the team's biggest heist came in the second round of the 2014 draft when they selected Serbian big man Nikola Jokic with No. 41 pick. Karnisovas is widely credited for the find.
Many in the NBA shied away from Jokic because of questions regarding his fitness and athleticism, but the Nuggets gambled and struck gold. Jokic has turned into one of the best centers in the league, averaging 20.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game this season for the Nuggets after finishing fourth in MVP voting in 2018-19.
Donovan Mitchell - June 22, 2017
But it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows. One week after Karnisovas was named the Nuggets' GM, the team made arguably the worst trade of his tenure. After selecting Donovan Mitchell with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, they traded his rights to Utah for Trey Lyles and the rights to Tyler Lydon.
Lyles exited stage left after two years in Denver. Lydon bounced around between the G League and Nuggets, before not having his player option declined last summer. Mitchell has gone on to become one of the bright young stars in the NBA.
Michael Porter Jr. - June 21, 2018
Karnisovas and the Nuggets gambled again on draft night in 2018, selecting Michael Porter Jr with No. 14 overall pick.
Porter Jr. would have easily been a top five pick had he not suffered a severe back injury in college. While the jury is still out on his lasting potential, he has shown flashes of what made him one of the top players in the country.
Clint Capela Blockbuster - Feb. 5, 2020
Karnisovas has shown his creativity in making deals with other teams too. Before the trade deadline this year, the Nuggets were involved in a massive four-team blockbuster deal that involved a whopping 12 players.
When the dust settled, the Hawks ended up with Clint Capela, the Rockets landed Robert Covington and the Nuggets acquired Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Npaier, Noah Vonleh and Gerald Green (while shipping out Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez). The jury is still out on this one, too.