NBA AM: Nene Is Still Nuggets Top Priority
The center position in the modern NBA remains the toughest position to fill for franchises looking to secure a true low post presence. However, teams with the necessary salary cap room will get their chance to add one during the 2011 free agency class which boasts four solid center prospects in Marc Gasol, Nene, Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan. This group of big men will undoubtedly generate plenty of interest around the league and drive the free agency period once it begins on December 9.
Nene, who has spent his first nine seasons in the league as a member of the Denver Nuggets, is arguably the top unrestricted free agent center on the market this year and a key cornerstone in the Nuggets’ plans post Carmelo Anthony.
On Wednesday Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri confirmed he isn’t targeting any other free agent big man but Nene as his top priority.
“We want Nene back,” Ujiri told Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. “We’ll keep talking and see how that goes. I think he wants to test it [free agency], and we respect that. We respect what he’s doing; we respect Nene as a player. And we feel we’re doing our best to get him back here.”
With Ujiri pledging to do his best and Nene telling HOOPSWORLD back in March that he “wants to be a Nugget for now and forever,” this should be one of the easiest free agency re-signings in league history, right?
Yahoo! Sports is reporting that sources close to Nene believe the player has had a change of heart from his original stance.
According to the source, Nene’s free agency decision “will go down to the wire.”
Rumors have already begun to float revolving the New Jersey Nets’ interest in Nene as it looks to surround guard Deron Williams with enough talent to prove the franchise is serious about building a title contender.
Williams has yet to confirm he’s interested in signing a long term extension with the Nets.
From a financial standpoint the Nuggets have a favorable advantage over all other potential suitors for Nene’s services since the organization can offer a five-year deal.
In addition, the Nuggets are armed with around $25 million in salary cap room putting them well out of danger of an opposing team offering a heavily frontloaded deal.
Nene is reportedly attracting interest from the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Nets and Golden State Warriors in addition to the Nuggets trying to convince him to return.
Caron Butler on Bucks’ Target List: Caron Butler played in only 29 games for the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks during the 2011 season due to a major knee injury, but apparently his market value around the league remains intact as free agency looms.
According to Gery Woefel of the Journal Times, Milwaukee Bucks team officials contacted Butler’s agents on Wednesday to express an initial interest in the Racine, WI native.
Butler is a two-time former All-Star and has over 30 games of playoff experience under his belt which would seemingly help head coach Scott Skiles and the Bucks make a return to the postseason after a tumultuous 2011 campaign.
Young has seen his free agency market value skyrocket after posting a career best 17.4 points per game in 2011 on an extremely young Wizards team.
The Wizards have already issued a $3.7 million qualifying offer to Young which give the franchise the opportunity to match any offer that comes along seeking his services.
However, despite Young’s restricted free agency status there are members of the Wizards who feel the young guard may not be making a return to Washington.
“I feel there’s a chance he won’t back,” Wizards forward Andray Blatche told Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner earlier this week. “Either way it goes, we got Jordan Crawford that came in and did great work for us. At this point, I just want all the guys to come back home to D.C. and start working out together. I think it’s important for us to start getting our chemistry.”
Doc Rivers Ready To Work: As it relates to the current Boston Celtics core, the talks typically center on how much in the tank do Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have left in their respective legs for one more title run.
What usually follows is the subject of how much longer will head coach Doc Rivers be patrolling the sidelines before stepping down to spend more time with family.
For now it appears the lockout, which slowed NBA business to a halt, has served as sort of a rejuvenation tool.
“I’m thrilled to death to work,’’ Rivers told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “If I have learned anything from the lockout, No. 1, I needed to work because I missed it. I missed the league. I missed the players. So it’s just real nice to be getting back. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We have so many guys to sign and all that stuff. But it’s fun. It’s good to be back.’’
The Celtics will enter the free agency period with only six players under contract (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O’Neal and Avery Bradley).
The team has the right to match any offers for restricted free agent Jeff Green.
It is reported Boston is eyeing free agent small forwards Shane Battier and Josh Howard to address their depth on the wing.
NBA Chats: There are two chats on the schedule today. Joel Brigham is set to run the point at 1:30PM EST. Joel covers the Chicago Bulls and Eastern Conference. Be sure to get your questions in early. Next, HOOPSWORLD’s publisher Steve Kyler will host his chat at 3:30PM EST. Steve has the latest news regarding free agency, trade rumors and offseason buzz. Submit your question here. You can always find the upcoming chats here.