Nuggets searching for upgrades on the wing, backup center before trade deadline, sources say

Amid mounting injuries, the Denver Nuggets are actively searching for ways to improve their roster ahead of the trade deadline, two sources told The Denver Post.

With long-term injuries to both Michael Porter Jr. and P.J. Dozier, the Nuggets’ primary target is a wing, one source said. Outside of Will Barton, who can play small forward but is more a traditional shooting guard, the Nuggets’ roster is devoid of any true wings.

Barton has started the last four games at small forward as a result of the Nuggets’ injury-plagued rotations.

This season’s trade deadline is Feb. 10.

Davon Reed, who’s in the midst of his third 10-day hardship contract with the Nuggets, has given the team a boost defensively on the perimeter. There remains an interest in keeping him beyond his 10-day status, sources said, and Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been one of Reed’s biggest advocates behind the scenes.

In addition to a wing, the Nuggets are also searching for a true backup center to combat opponents who play big, sources said.

The Nuggets traded promising center Isaiah Hartenstein last season to Cleveland for JaVale McGee and two second-round picks, but hardly played McGee down the stretch. McGee’s played a significant role off the bench this season for Phoenix, averaging 10.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Hartenstein’s been similarly valuable to the Clippers this season.

Jeff Green, who’s started 24 games this season, has missed the last two games due to health and safety protocols, leaving the Nuggets thin in their reserve frontcourt. JaMychal Green is currently Denver’s only experienced reserve forward, and he’s only recently started to emerge from a season-long struggle.

Zeke Nnaji and Bol Bol remain developmental forwards, each with some promise.

Vlatko Cancar’s foot fracture suffered in the third quarter against Dallas only complicates Denver’s rotation even more. The budding forward had taken advantage of his playing time, which came as a result of Denver’s injury woes. Cancar, who was capable of guarding up in size, leaves an even bigger hole on the perimeter to fill.

Malone is expected to remain in health and safety protocols ahead of Wednesday’s game against Utah, meaning assistant Popeye Jones will coach a third consecutive game.

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