Emmanuel Mudiay came off the bench in the Denver Nuggets‘ 119-99 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday after missing five games with a sore back. His reward for returning to the lineup: a trade rumor, of course.

In a feature on Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that the Nuggets have tried to gauge the market for a package of Mudiay and draft picks:

The Nuggets are quietly exploring what they might get for Emmanuel Mudiay and multiple picks, sources say, but they’re in no rush to move Mudiay, and the Suns may not want him when they could simply draft a point guard.

Some thoughts:

  • Notes like this might as well come with a massive disclaimer: Teams are talking to each other all the time, and it’s literally the Denver front office’s job to know the value of its players and picks. Lowe reported that the Nuggets are in “no rush” to move Mudiay, so it would be inaccurate to assume they’re desperate to send him elsewhere.
  • If Denver were to trade him before the Feb. 23 deadline, it would be a bit surprising because of his age. Mudiay doesn’t turn 21 until March, and he has all the physical tools to become a high-level point guard. He hasn’t improved his inconsistent jump shot and developed as a decision-maker as much as you might have liked from Year 1 to Year 2, but there is still a ton of potential here.
  • Unlike fellow sophomore Nikola Jokic, Mudiay has not yet proven that he needs to be one of Denver’s cornerstones. That doesn’t always happen immediately, but the contrast with Jokic is right in front of Nuggets executives’ faces. Even if they still believe he has a pretty good chance of becoming the player they envisioned when they drafted him, they might decide they’re better off using him as a trade chip to acquire somebody they see as a sure thing.
  • The Murray dynamic is interesting. Theoretically, Mudiay fits well with him — they can both handle the ball and make plays, and Mudiay is big enough to defend most shooting guards. If Denver doesn’t trust Murray to play point guard full-time, then it will want Mudiay — or someone like him — around to take the pressure off. If it does, however, think Murray can handle it — or at least decide it’s a simple enough job because Jokic is essentially a point center — then Mudiay would undeniably be a bit more expendable.
  • This is the most Nugget-y trade rumor possible. For the past few years, Denver has done an excellent job of scouting, drafting and maintaining flexibility, but it’s future has been totally unclear. It always seems like the front office is open to trading almost anyone on the roster and might make a big move at a moment’s notice, but it has also displayed an impressive (or frustrating, depending on your perspective) amount of patience. “Quietly exploring, but in no rush” might as well be Denver’s motto.

Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Report: Nuggets ‘quietly exploring’ trade market for Emmanuel Mudiay