Loveland Reporter-Herald

Jackson near top of Nuggets’ wish list

Veteran guard should be available on buyout market

- By Mike Singer

As the dust settled Thursday from a chaotic trade deadline, the Nuggets were left to assess their roster and ask themselves how close it was to a championsh­ip contender.

With Bones Hyland heading to the Clippers, and big man Thomas Bryant joining the Nuggets, Denver addressed one of its biggest needs: size off the bench.

The Nuggets could’ve used Bryant as they put together an underwhelm­ing effort in Orlando on Thursday night, falling 115-104 to the Magic. The loss dropped them to 38-18 on the season.

But in auditing their roster following the deadline, it’s obvious the Nuggets don’t have much depth in the backcourt. Jamal Murray missed his third consecutiv­e game on Thursday, this one due to right knee inflammati­on. Beyond Murray, Bruce Brown isn’t a natural point guard (though he sometimes plays it), and Ish Smith, while reliable, is probably only needed in the postseason in emergency scenarios.

For that reason, expect the Nuggets to keep close tabs on the buyout market, and specifical­ly, the guards.

Reggie Jackson, who’s expected to reach a contract buyout with the Hornets, is near the top of Denver’s wish list, a source told The Post. Jackson’s been with the Clippers for parts of the past four seasons and was traded to Charlotte for former Nugget center Mason Plumlee. The Palmer High School alum is averaging 10.9 points in nearly 26 minutes per game this season.

Russell Westbrook, who was acquired by Utah in a three-team swap involving Minnesota and Los Angeles, is another likely buyout candidate. Westbrook averaged nearly 16 points per game off the bench for the Lakers.

Veteran guard Patrick Beverley was dealt from the Lakers to Orlando and is widely expected to hit the buyout market as well. Though undersized, Beverley’s a high-energy defender who could aid Denver’s second unit.

Danny Green got moved in a multi-team swap and landed in Houston. At 6-foot-6, he could fill the wing defender need Denver’s been searching for over the last few weeks if he’s bought out by the Rockets.

Veteran guard Will Barton could hit the buyout market soon, too, following a quiet start with the Wizards. Would the Nuggets welcome him back as a boost to Denver’s bench?

With one roster spot now open following the trade deadline, the Nuggets have space to fill.

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