The Denver Nuggets have traded big man Jusuf Nurkic to the Portland Trail Blazers for center Mason Plumlee, according to multiple reports. A trade call to make the deal official is scheduled for Monday, sources told ESPN's Marc Stein.
The deal sends Nurkic and Memphis' first-round draft pick to Portland.
The Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets don't feel like waiting until the NBA's February 23 trade deadline. Had they made this deal prior to the beginning of the season it's likely they would have not been required to give up a first rounder to get back Plumlee. But that pick lost some of its luster with the accelerated, solid play of the Grizzlies this season under first-year head coach David Fizdale and should be a mid- to late first-rounder. It's unclear if he'll start at center right away for the Trail Blazers, but with the team parting ways with Plumlee, who would have been due for an extension this offseason, Portland has a long-term vacancy at the position. Denver's also going to have to pay Plumlee this summer or face giving up a first-round pick for no return. Since beginning the year as Denver's starting center, Nurkic grew frustrated in a backup role and has been phased out of the rotation at times this season. The former Duke standout is average career highs of 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists for Portland, which sits a game behind Denver for the eighth playoff spot in the West. Plumlee will be a free agent after this season.