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The Celtics should call the Nuggets about Nurkic

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Could Boston find gold in Denver?

New York Knicks v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Celtics need a big man. One player isn’t going to vault them into title contention unless that person is a superstar, but barring a blockbuster deal, the Celtics should certainly be on the lookout for players that meet needs on the team. A big center that can rebound and play some defense would be great.

A common name that comes up often is Andrew Bogut because the Mavericks won’t have much motivation to keep him around and he’s probably available for cheap. He’s also a fairly well known commodity and an expiring contract. But he has also had a history of injuries. Nerlens Noel is another name you hear but the pricetag on him could be higher than the Celtics are willing to pay (both literally and figuratively considering he’s a restricted free agent this summer).

One other name the Celtics could consider would be Jusuf Nurkic of the Denver Nuggets. If you have trouble telling Nurkic from Jokic, just remember that Jokic is the better one. But that doesn’t mean that Nurkic can’t be very good too. In fact, many believe he’s a starting caliber center that just happens to be stuck behind a better center. Here’s a quick scouting report on the Bosnian Beast.

via CBS Sports

If you're not familiar with the Nuggets' backup center, here's a quick primer: Two years ago, everybody was excited about him. As a 20-year-old rookie, he backed down from nobody, famously staring down both DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol. He was fearless, skilled, physical and much more nimble than you'd expect for a guy of his size.

It is rare to find a 7-footer who can both score in the post and move his feet on defense, so he seemed like he'd be Denver's center of the future. After his rookie year, though, Nurkic had surgery to repair a tear in his left patellar tendon. He wasn't quite the same in his second season, and Nikola Jokic, the big man that the Nuggets picked 25 spots behind him in 2014, came over from Serbia and essentially took Nurkic's spot.

Turns out the Nuggets can’t figure out how to find time for Nurkic, Jokic, and Farried and Jusuf is looking like the odd man out. So much so that the Nuggets are looking to trade him.

via ESPN

Sources told ESPN that the Nuggets -- having acknowledged that it's difficult to accommodate both Nurkic and Nikola Jokic in the same frontcourt -- have made Nurkic available and are searching out deals that would give him the Bosnian big man an opportunity to go elsewhere and start anew.

I pinged the Adam Mares (Denver Stiff’s blogger) on twitter and we worked out our own little fake trade. Here’s what we came up with. Tyler Zeller plus a 2nd rounder (via Min) for Nurkic.

Zeller is a good 3rd string center to have for depth but I’m surprised the price was that low. I’d be willing to include another minor asset to get it done. Perhaps giving them the draft rights to Yabusele or a future low first rounder would suffice.

From Adam:

Nurkic is going to revive his career somewhere besides Denver and I want him as far away as possible when he does.

Sounds good to me. It seems like a good gamble on a guy that has size and upside at a low cost to acquire. He’s big and mobile enough to help out right away and he’s young enough to grow with the younger core on this roster. Perhaps the only hesitation would be the duplication of pairing him with Ante Zizic next season, but those are good problems to have and at some point Ainge will have to consolidate assets anyway.

What are your thoughts on this option?