This piece is in direct response to a Twitter challenge by Editor-In-Chief of The Big Lead, Jason McIntyre. Earlier today on his blog, McIntyre suggested six possible destinations for Nene, of which four were completely unrealistic and, as I insinuated to him in a tweet, were “pulled out of his ass.” As a Nuggets fan, it doesn’t irk me so much that Nene opted out as it does that ignorant basketball fans think that he’d actually take $3 million a year to land on a contender for the next five years. It’s a classic “I have no idea what goes on west of the Hudson River” view of the sports world and it pisses me off to no end. It’s highly indicative of his writing style over the years in that he likes to pretend he’s an authority on sports and that his opinion matters when in actuality he’s playing the post-modern version of reaching for sports talk show radio ratings. Which is exactly why McIntyre actually positing that Nene could actually end up in Dallas, San Antonio, Boston, or Miami drives me insane. There’s just no way. If you really want me to break down why it’s impossible for each of those teams, leave me a note in the comments. I’d be happy to do it. Additionally let me please note that if this piece has any spelling errors or seems sloppy, my apologies. I rushed to write it as soon as the challenge was extended and haven’t gotten the chance to edit it properly.
In response to his ignorant evaluation of Nene’s free agency, here’s my list of six actual destinations the Brazilian big man could end up. In no particular order…
1) The Denver Nuggets. Hey! Just because he opted out doesn’t mean he’s going to automatically skip town. I think they’re definitely still the favorite to land him after the lockout is over. Nene is obviously looking for more years than the regular extension would have offered although I think it’s highly unwise to risk signing under the terms of the new CBA. It has the potential to severely limit the amount of money he could earn as well as the number of years. In addition to this, Nene is married to a native Colorado woman and they’re expecting their first child next month. He’s been quoted as saying he wants to retire a Nugget but he’s also on the record as saying he has major doubts about the direction of the franchise. I’m crossing my fingers that he stays, but I don’t think anyone could blame him for going elsewhere.
2) The Golden State Warriors. It’s no secret the Warriors have been after Nene since last season’s ownership change. They’ve been starved of competent front court help ever since Biedrins and David Lee landed on what appear to be permanent spots on the injury train. With a new ownership group that is embracing advanced metrics, Nene is a highly attractive free agent that they will target. For those who don’t know, he’s one of the most efficient scorers in the NBA and that stat geeks are gaga for his remarkable numbers. This is made all the more realistic by that same front office saying they’re more than willing to make room for players by dealing either Monta Ellis or Steph Curry rather than McIntyre’s unrealistic idea that a team like the Celtics would move Ray Allen or KG to get Nene. While it may be possible for the Warriors to keep both Curry and Ellis and make room for him, my guess is they’d move one of the guards for other assets.
3) The Houston Rockets. Darly Morey has additionally made it no secret that he finds Nene to be an extremely desirable player to have on the roster. How any knowledgeable fan could manage to forget this fact is beyond me which makes McIntyre’s destinations all the more ridiculous. Are you noticing a trend in that all the smart front offices want to land him on their team? Is Nene the elusive “great player” Morey has been searching for all these years? I doubt it. But he’d make one hell of a running mate if they were ever able to land a Dwight Howard or a Chris Paul to go with him. Nene and Scola would team up for an All-South American front court that would feature one of the most formidable offensive duos in the game. Let’s not talk about their defense though…
4) The New Jersey Nets. McIntyre was correct in his assumption that the Nets are a realistic destination. They’re trying to convince Deron Williams to stay and for Dwight Howard to sign next off season. I can’t think of a better way to do it than by signing one of the three best free agents in this year’s class. Additionally I think Nene offers far more stability than David West or Tyson Chandler (the other two best options), both of whom have serious injury histories over the course of their careers. Mikhail Prokhorov in no stranger to spending money either.
5) The Indiana Pacers. Ditto on McIntyre being correct here as well. They have lots of cap room to sign him and could feature him at his natural position of power forward (next to Roy Hibbert). This would make the Pacers an extremely fun/competitive team to watch next year and if status and perceptions didn’t matter in the modern NBA, Indiana might be the front runner to land him. Although the move makes sense on a basketball level, would Nene really leave Colorado for…Indiana? I’m not saying Denver offers a night life which he’d miss dearly but you can’t beat the views/scenery in the Mile High City and again his wife is from Colorado, after all. I would be shocked to see a player of his caliber sign with the Pacers.
6) The New Orleans. If they’re unable to keep David West they could just as quickly turn around and offer that same money to Nene, who instantly would become a regular all-star candidate each year if paired next to Chris Paul. It’s scary to think of what those two could achieve with each other. Paul damn near won the Western conference the one year he had a healthy Tyson Chandler playing center. A healthy Nene who’s far more skilled offensively? That’s quite terrifying actually.
And there you have it basketball fans. That’s my realistic retort to McIntyre’s ridiculous post and one that I hope leaves you all more informed after having finished it.