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Nuggets need to end Emmanuel Mudiay experiment and trade for a veteran point guard

It’s possible for the Nuggets to get out of this funk and salvage a spot on the NBA playoffs. But, at this point, it seems impossible for Denver to save point guard Emmanuel Mudiay from being a wasted first-round draft choice.

So it’s time for the Nuggets to say goodbye to Mudiay and make a trade.

Why? Denver needs to acquire a point guard with the veteran savvy to run the offense under pressure and the wisdom to give guidance to rising stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

“We shouldn’t be worrying about the playoffs right now,” said coach Michael Malone, obsessed with finding a way for his team to rediscover how to play good basketball.

Beating Portland 104-101 on Monday night provided a desperately needed victory but brought only temporary relief for a team with real issues. The biggest concern is the absence of their $30 million man, Paul Millsap, who has missed 31 games with a wrist injury. But Denver also has tried to cobble together a point guard rotation for too long.

It’s a joy to watch Murray learn on the job as a starter. As his 38 points against the Blazers attest, Murray is a point of light with legit star potential.

Malone, however, has no suitable backup at point guard. Oh, swingman Will Barton has tried to fill the void, and there’s retro, shake-and-bake cool to the way he operates the offense, especially if you’re fond of lava lamps and Al Green singing “Let’s Stay Together.”

In an effort to re-energize an attack gone stagnate, Malone inserted Barton in the starting lineup against Portland at small forward. It wasn’t a terrible idea. Although Barton missed all seven of his field-goal attempts, he brought increased ball movement to the floor. The problem? It left Malone with Mudiay as his primary backup at the point, which was definitely a bad idea.

Can we agree it now feels like piling on to bash Mudiay? And maybe it’s cruel to label a young man yet to reach his 22nd birthday a bust. After being drafted with the seventh pick overall in 2015, however, Mudiay has never lived up to the hype or gained the trust of Malone.

Shortly after checking in the game as a sub, Mudiay clanked shots and threw a pass so far off the mark the crowd groaned and Barton grimaced. In 11 minutes of playing time, Mudiay had one point, no assists and barely a clue.

Let’s skip the finger-pointing, call the Mudiay experiment a failure and move on.

The trade deadline is Feb. 8. So Tim Connelly and Arturas Karnisovas need to start texting, calling and begging their friends in front offices across the league.

What should Denver be looking for in a point guard?

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