Michael Malone on NBA trade deadline: Nuggets aren’t “burning up the phone lines to 29 other teams”

As Michael Malone would put it, the Nuggets are listeners but not callers at this trade deadline.

The ninth-year Nuggets coach expressed confidence in Denver’s current roster Sunday night when asked about his conversations with general manager Calvin Booth in the lead-up to the league’s Feb. 8 deadline. After 1 p.m. MT Thursday, trades will no longer be permitted for the duration of the season.

“Calvin and his staff, I’m sure, are fielding phone calls. But I can’t imagine we’re actively calling many teams right now,” Malone said, pointing out the Nuggets are half a game out of first place in the Western Conference. “Are we satisfied? No. I think you always have to be responsible enough to look within and say, ‘Hey, can we do anything that makes us better?’ That’s always a question you have to ask. But knowing Calvin and the brief conversations we’ve had, there is nothing where Calvin’s on the phone, burning up the phone lines to 29 other teams.

“Because we have a tremendous starting unit. And we have some guys on our bench that are young and developing and have the chance to be really good players for years to come.”

The Nuggets (35-16) are entering a rare three-day stretch without a game, then playing at the Lakers on deadline day. They aren’t looking for another starter; they already possess the same starting five that won the NBA title last season. Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Nikola Jokic have logged more minutes than any other five-man lineup in the NBA in 2023-24. They currently have a net rating of 13.5 that rivals the Celtics, Clippers and Bucks for the title of best lineup in the league.

Between that unit’s sustained success, the rise of bench pieces such as Peyton Watson and a list of salary cap obstacles, the Nuggets are likely to have a quiet deadline, league sources have told The Denver Post. The team will, however, monitor the market for frontcourt depth and bench scoring.

“You never know what kind of phone call you’ll get,” Malone said. “That’s the crazy thing as next Thursday approaches. This is a weird business. Strange things happen. But I love the group in that locker room. I love where we’re at. And more importantly, I think we really have another level we can get to.”

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