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Report: Nuggets trading JaMychal Green to Thunder in salary dump/pick exchange

JaMychal Green in JaMychal Green in Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 2: JaMychal Green #0 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 2, 2022 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Before leaving for the Timberwolves, Tim Connelly said the Nuggets were willing to pay the luxury tax.

Well, Denver is already trimming payroll.

The Nuggets are sending JaMychal Green – who has an $8.2 million player option for next season – and a future first-round pick to the Thunder for the No. 30 pick in this year’s draft and two second-rounders.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Presumably, Green is getting treated in this trade as carrying negative value. That’s reflected in him opting in (necessary for this trade to happen) rather than re-entering free agency this summer and Oklahoma City of all teams acquiring him.

The rebuilding Thunder have little direct use for Green, who’ll turn 32 next week. Maybe they can flip him to a team that more greatly values his on-court contributions – maybe even as part of another salary dump for a player on an even worse contract in a deal that nets Oklahoma City even more draft picks. Buying out or even straight waiving Green are also possible.

For the Thunder, Denver’s 2027 first-round pick is the prize. That can’t land lower than the No. 30 pick surrendered this year (unless the NBA expands). The upside could be far higher, depending on the protections.

Even Oklahoma City has realistic limits on the number of rookies to roster. The Nos. 2, 12 and 34 picks are plenty. That also partially explains why the Thunder were willing include to two second-rounders for what should be a more-valuable single asset in Denver’s 2027 protected first-rounder.

The Nuggets could still pay the luxury tax, but this trade is at least about limiting their tax bill, if not outright avoiding the tax completely. The deal comes at the expense of the on-court product. If maximizing winning were the sole priority, Denver could have used its 2027 pick to acquire a helpful contributor rather than using it to unload Green and his unwanted salary.

Green was in the Nuggets’ rotation last season, though barely. Zeke Nnaji or an outside addition could take his minutes. A stretch power forward who competes defensively, Green could provide depth to a team competing now.

Just not to Denver at $8.2 million.