Denver Nuggets unrestricted free agent PF/C Nene wants out of Denver, according to a report by Ken Berger of CBS Sports. As on of the top unrestricted free agents on the market (here is a link to the full free agent list), Nene's group of suitors is already large, with the Golden State Warriors, New Jersey Nets, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets all said to be interested in signing the big man when free agency opens on December 9th.
Nuggets fans are terrified of losing Nene, as the 29-year old was likely their best player last season and would be the cornerstone of the franchise if he resigned with the team. SB Nation's Denver Nuggets blog, Denver Stiffs, explains just how pivotal Nene's decision is to the future of the team:
Under the new CBA, NBA teams are mandated to spend 85% of the salary cap, or $49.3 million in 2011-12...
... If Nene re-signs at $12 million (regardless of whether we agree or not if he's overpaid) and Afflalo re-signs at, say, $5 million, then a few more veterans combined with rookies Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hamilton's contracts should solve the 85% issue.
However, if Nene does not re-sign with Denver, then what? Are the Nuggets supposed to fill a $10-$12 million void with veterans we don't really want just to get to $49.3 million in total salary? Are those one-year contracts or do they have to be multi-year deals just to get players to come here? To me, the 85% clause makes the will-he or won't-he Nene question the biggest facing our franchise at present.
If the rumors about Nene wanting out are true, there is a serious incentive for the Nuggets to accommodate his demands and work out a sign-and-trade with another team to get back valuable assets instead of losing the emerging star for nothing.
Berger says Nene would prefer to land with either the Miami Heat or the Dallas Mavericks, but he could only join those teams if the Nuggets agree to a sign-and-trade, as both teams are over the salary cap. He seems like a great fit for either team, as the Heat are looking for a big man to pair with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and the Mavs are seeking a true power forward to slide next to Dirk Nowitzki. For Nene, the difference in salary with a trade scenario would be from the baseline four-year maximum deal with 4.5 percent annual raises he could sign as a free agent, to the five-year maximum deal with 7.5 percent raises he could get by re-signing with Denver.
Stay tuned to SB Nation Denver for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Denver Nuggets be sure to visit Denver Stiffs. Visit SB Nation NBA for more news and notes around the league, and check the SB Nation storystream for the latest news on the NBA lockout.