Former Portland Trail Blazers fan favorite Will Barton continues to excel with the Denver Nuggets, and has generated trade interest from a variety of NBA teams, including the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Pelicans, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.
Washington, New Orleans among teams reached out to Denver to gauge availability of Will Barton, league sources tell ESPN. Exploratory now.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) December 21, 2016
Barton started 13 games in place of Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris (foot) this season, but returned to the bench on December 15, when Harris came back. In those starts, Barton averaged 13.7 points per game. Unsurprisingly, the 2015-16 Sixth Man of the Year candidate has maintained his effectiveness upon resuming his role with the second unit.
Between the favorable amalgam of Harris, Barton, and Danilo Gallinari at the wings, the Wilson Chandler at power forward experiment, and the continued growth of frontcourt foreman Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets are thriving in the early season, so there is no real urgency to deal Barton. On the other hand, if the right deal presents itself, the Nuggets may be able to cut redundancy in exchange for a piece that would push them over the hump and into the NBA playoffs. They are presently (and quietly) embroiled in a battle for the No. 8 spot with the Trail Blazers.
Barton is under contract through the 2017-18 season for just $3.5 million per year—an absolute steal in the new cap environment considering what he offers. Unless the Nuggets receive the perfect proposal, expect these inquiries to remain purely exploratory for now.
Barton has come a long way from his days as Portland’s garbage time highlight reel. Regardless of where he finishes the 2016-17 NBA season, watch for him to be an active contributor on his team.