The Denver Nuggets are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and they plan on at least maintaining that standing for the rest of the season by adding players.
Denver (26-25) is reportedly in the market for a point guard, with Indiana Pacers veteran Darren Collison at the top of their wish list, according to USA Today‘s Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt.
The Nuggets, who haven't qualified for the postseason since 2013, have a great opportunity after the two teams on either side of them in the standings - the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans - suffered recent roster setbacks. The Clippers, who enter play Friday just a 1/2 game back of the Nuggets, shockingly sent Blake Griffin packing for Detroit earlier this week, signalling a rebuild. Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan will also likely be dealt prior to the Feb. 8 trade deadline, further weakening their postseason chances. While the Pelicans' playoff hopes also took a nosedive after DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. New Orleans is 1 1/2 games up on the Nuggets, sitting seventh in the West, but will likely struggle to maintain that position down the stretch without Cousins playing alongside Anthony Davis.
Youngsters Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are the current backcourt tandem for the Nuggets, and although the duo provide scoring punch, both aren't particularly known for their play-making abilities. Collison, who averages 12.8 points and 5.3 assists per game as a starter, is more of a pass-first guard, and brings some playoff experience to the table. The 30-year-old has appeared in 29 career playoff games, most recently in 2013-14 with the Clippers. Collison has a $10-million team option on his deal for next season, but the Pacers may be hesitant to part ways with him, as the team is also vying for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
While other teams around them struggle to cope with injuries, Denver is expecting stud power forward Paul Millsap to return after the All-Star break. He's been out since tearing a ligament in his left wrist in November, and should provide a boost to the team at a crucial time of the season. His presence in the lineup takes some of the pressure off frontcourt mate Nikola Jokic, which should help space the floor for shooters Will Barton and Wilson Chandler on the perimeter.
The Nuggets have a daunting schedule to kick off February, with tough contests against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets (twice), and San Antonio Spurs (twice) looming over their next nine games.