<
>
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
Get ESPN+

NBA trade deadline: The challenges driving the entangled Nuggets and Magic

play
How will McGee, Gordon fit with the Nuggets? (1:05)

Kendrick Perkins breaks down how JaVale McGee and Aaron Gordon will fit into the Nuggets' rotation. (1:05)

Seven years ago on NBA draft night, the Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic struck a seemingly minor deal swapping Evan Fournier to Orlando in exchange for Arron Afflalo. That same night, the Nuggets traded back in the draft and selected Gary Harris (and Jusuf Nurkic). Twenty-two picks later, they drafted a pudgy center from Serbia.

Both franchises, non-glamour teams to say the least, were still dealing with the fallout from the 2012 trade of Dwight Howard from Orlando to the Los Angeles Lakers. The deal had turned Orlando from contender to also-ran. The Nuggets snared Andre Iguodala as part of the four-team Howard mega-trade, and enjoyed a one-season leap in 2012-13 -- winning 57 games and playing at what was then considered a hyperspeed style centered around Iguodala, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, and Kenneth Faried.

Iguodala left for the Golden State Warriors in free agency, and Gallinari missed the entire 2013-14 season recovering from injury -- the first of four consecutive sub-.500 seasons in Denver.

The two teams, and several of those same players, intersected again at Thursday's trade deadline -- only with the franchises at opposite ends of the NBA hierarchy. The Nuggets sent Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton, and a top-five protected future first-round pick to Orlando for Aaron Gordon and Gary Clark.

The Nuggets are going all-in around the trio of Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Nikola Jokic, that 2014 draft steal -- striking with Jokic having just turned 26, entering his prime as perhaps the favorite for Most Valuable Player.

The Magic have been wandering the NBA wilderness since the Howard trade, pivoting from one quirky failed vision to the next before finally burning it to the ground on Thursday.