The Denver Nuggets are currently playing in their first ever NBA Finals, but that doesn't mean they aren't thinking about the future. On Friday, they agreed to trade a protected 2029 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for the least favorable of Oklahoma City's 2024 first-round picks, the No. 37 overall pick in the 2023 draft and a 2024 second-round pick, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The logic for the Nuggets is relatively simple. They will have an enormously expensive roster for the next several seasons, so by adding these picks in the near future, they will have a chance to add low-cost young talent as they attempt to win championships around Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Denver has proven capable of turning draft picks into immediate contributors in recent years, with 2022 first-round pick Christian Braun already playing a meaningful role in their rotation this postseason.
Oklahoma City's situation is different. The Thunder are already loaded with young talent, and the last thing they need is more picks. They simply don't have the roster spots to accommodate all of their draft capital, and even if they did, they couldn't afford to pay any more successful picks because of how well they've drafted in recent years. So instead, they kicked the can down the road and landed a pick far enough in the future that the won't have to worry about immediate roster concerns.
Trades rarely occur during the playoffs, though they are legal once a team's season ends. Still, Denver is actively competing for the chance to win its first NBA championship. It is exceedingly rare for a team in that position to make a move of any kind, but the Nuggets know they have a window to contend for several years, so they're taking advantage of every minute of it.