Denver Nuggets: Signing Nenê and other moves they should make in free agency
The NBA lockout was like a pregnancy. There was a lot of irrational screaming and finger-pointing, and of course, labor pains. And the entire time, all anyone wanted to see was the baby. In this case, the baby is a season, which was born very early Saturday morning and appears to be alive and healthy. Now it's time to get everything the baby needs: namely, players. The Nuggets have possibly the most unsettled roster in the league and a shorter-than-normal period to fill it out.
Sign this man.
The players and owners came to a tentative agreement on a new collective-bargaining agreement, and while many of the details still need to be ironed out, the league will reportedly start a 66-game schedule on Christmas Day. Teams will likely be able to begin negotiating with free agents between December 1 and 4, and start signing them December 9.
If the salary cap is set at $58 million as expected, the Nuggets would have about $30 million to spend on free agents. Thanks to free agency and China, Denver has only seven players under contract right now -- Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, Al Harrington, Chris "Birdman" Andersen, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufas.
While that spending cash is exciting, the rather lackluster group of free agents available is anything but. Denver's own Nenê is widely considered the best player on the market. When he opted out of his deal's last year, he became an unrestricted free agent. He may command a max-level deal, meaning he could earn up to 30 percent of a team's total salary.
The Nuggets' first priority should be signing Nenê, but as an unrestricted free agent, the only advantage Denver has is the ability to offer him a five-year deal with 7.5 percent yearly raises, as opposed to the four-year contract with 4.5 percent annual raises to which other teams will be limited. Working strongly against the Nuggets are reports that Nenê wants out of Denver.
Ken Berger, of CBS Sports, is reporting that Nenê would like to land in Dallas or Miami. But as both of these teams are over the salary cap, he would have to go there as part of a sign-and-trade, just like Carmelo Anthony did last year when he left for the New York Knicks. The difference under the new CBA is that Nenê can't sign the five-year max in a sign-and-trade. He could land the same contract simply signing with another team as a free agent, so he would have to specifically push for Miami or Dallas.
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