Blog Entry

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:30 pm
To Nene, or not to Nene. This is the potentially franchise-shaping question facing the Denver Nuggets.

This is becoming familiar territory for Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, who no sooner got the job last season when he was thrust into the Carmelo Anthony saga. That one ended well for Denver: Melo and his wandering eye got a max extension and a trade to the Knicks. The Nuggets got valuable assets and picks, including players like Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler -- who were already accomplished starters to a degree but also young and cheap enough to build and plan around.

But what about Nene? In a lackluster free-agent class, only Nene and Mavs center Tyson Chandler figure to command max money. Some NBA executives question whether either player is worth a contract starting at the max of $17.4-$17.8 million. If Nene wants to push for a sign-and-trade to a contender -- such as Dallas and Miami, two of the teams on his list -- he'd have to settle for a four-year deal with smaller raises than the Nuggets can offer.

If he wants a five-year deal, he'll stay in Denver. If he just wants a change of scenery, he could get a four-year deal from any number of teams that have cap space or could create it, such as the Nets, Warriors, Rockets or Pacers. In short, Nene has options. Not as many options as Anthony, who had the full extend-and-trade avenue and max sign-and-trade scenario going for him -- but options, nonetheless.

So, why aren't the Nuggets panicking? One, if Ujiri survived the Melodrama, the Nene-a-thon will be a piece of cake. And two, the Nuggets have options, too.

If Nene bolts, Denver is projected to have the most cap room in the league next season -- nearly $39 million, and more if they amnesty Al Harrington between now and then. They have their own first-round pick in 2012 and '13, and could wind up with more if Nene departed via the sign-and-trade route. As weak as this free-agent class is, this year's draft will be deep and exceptional. Not a bad time to undertake a one-year rebuilding/reloading plan if that's what the Nuggets are forced to do.

Also, the Nuggets brass need to find out what Gallinari is going to be in major minutes, not to mention Timofey Mozgov, another piece they got from the Knicks for Anthony. The sting of a rebuilding year also would be minimized by a shortened season. It'll be over fast, and if the Nuggets missed the playoffs, it wouldn't be long before they'd be preparing to pick a potential All-Star in the lottery.

While the Nuggets won't be in the running for a potential superstar free agent like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul or Deron Williams, their copious cap space and assets obtained in the Melo trade would give them flexibility to be one of the biggest players next summer. So do the Nuggets want Nene back? Of course. Ujiri has told him that on many occasions, and as with Anthony, the Nuggets exec has taken the time to build a relationship with his star so there's mutual trust.

But if someone is willing to pay Nene the max in the next week or so, making a 14-point, seven-rebound center a $17 million player? There may be no way to avoid parting ways. And as in the case of Anthony, it could wind up working out for the best for both sides.

Since: Nov 29, 2009
Posted on: December 4, 2011 4:41 pm

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

Too Bad So Sad for the Nuggets

The Nugs will never beat the Lakers, Mavs, Spurs or Thunder to get to the NBA finals so it doesn't matter if they sign Nene or not in terms of trying to win a championship now. That being said, Nene is a great player, who boards, blocks, runs the floor and intimidates, so give him his $17 Million, and trade him to Jersey for Lopez or Deron then flip for other talent for the future. Masai should continue to re-build and do the sign and trade. Case closed.

Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: December 4, 2011 3:18 pm

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

Good call!  Missed that one.  Lol

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:34 pm

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

Personally, I think Nene is overrated and no where near a top tier player. He doesn't hurt the Nuggets, but he doesn't put them over the top either. For what he gives, I'd rather have Tyson Chandler. The Nuggets should just see what they can get for Nene and let him go. They have a lot of young talent to develop and are in a good position for future growth. Signing Nene would only hamper the development of other players.

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:01 pm

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

Now, let's hope Ujiri is reading this and finds some over-the-cap playoff team who will do a sign-and-trade with the Nuggets for Nene.  Much as I think they'd be OK if he just walked, there's nothing wrong with getting some assets back when he goes.

Since: Aug 1, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 3:19 pm

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

Long term Nugget fan that could give a crap.  With the NBA allowing Carmelo to hold us hostage last year and the inability for the owners to stand their ground in taking back a great game from the present day gang of bandits... I just no longer care.  Nene isn't worth anything close to $17 million.  That is Ridiculous!  If Nene cannot recognize the opportunity to be "The Guy" in Denver that is in front of him then so be it.   Wish we could bring back Fat Lever, Alex English, Calvin Natt, and Dan Issel.  Throw in Chauncey Billups and I would be a happy man.  Men of integrity that KNOW and RESPECT the game of basketball.

Since: Jun 28, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 1:52 pm

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

He is 29 he has peaked as a player and plays in a open offense and still does not even put David Lee numbers who atleast puts numbers thanks to the system. Very overrated player who hopefully does not get a max deal.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 3, 2011 8:06 am

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

I'm in agreement with many of the other Nuggets fans on this forum - Nene is a good player, shows some flashes of awesomeness, but is not worth a max contract.  I disagree with the article's author in that even without Nene the Nuggets are not destined to be a lottery team.  The Melo trade was a good deal for Denver, and the return of Andre Miller to the Nuggets as well as a healthy Birdman Andersen along with the good young players will help keep the Nuggets an entertaining team that could very well be in the thick of the playoff mix. 

Since: Oct 16, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 6:08 am

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

This is the problem with the nba and the lockout fixed nothing!!!!!! Nene is not worth 17 million a year!!!!! as salaries go hes worth around 10 to 12 cause hes a solid center who produces on both end, but 17 million??? Im glad the lockout is over but hearing teams are willing to pay players like nene 17 million a year im sure that by year 6 of the new CBA the owners will opt out and lock the players out again but this time for a full season........... say it isnt so. i pry nobody gives nene a max deal, nobody in this free agent class is deserving of a max deal.

Since: Feb 1, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 3:47 am

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

Don't forget the M-O-Z-G-O-V instead of Mosgov. 

Since: Mar 6, 2009
Posted on: December 3, 2011 2:06 am

Nuggets and the Nene dilemma

I watch every game and I am glad that Nene is a Nugget, but he is in no way a superstar worth that kind of money. He plays 65 percent of the time and a person who gets paid that kind of money needs to be a superstar and a leader.

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