According to Marc Stein, who has been all over Nuggets rumors today, Nene has re-signed with the Nuggets for five years at at least $67 million.
I can’t even begin to describe how awesome this is right now. Like it or not, Nene deserved this type of money. He has showed great loyalty to this organization and I’m glad to see he’s been handsomely rewarded yet again. If the Nuggets are now able to re-sign Afflalo, they will have had the best off-season of any team in the NBA by my estimation.
And this is where things get interesting.
Just before I found out Nene re-signed I was working on a 3-on-3 piece in which one of the questions was, “Smart or not smart: The Nuggets should re-sign Nene even if it means giving him a maximum-level contract.” As I was working on my response I knew I wanted to point out the fact that giving Nene a few million more each season would surely not make or break the Nuggets’ future. So, as I headed on over to Google and entered, “New Jersey Nets Nene contract offer” (which is still in my little Google toolbar by the way — I think I might just keep it there forever) I was surprised by the number of links that claimed Nene had re-signed with the Nuggets. Me being me, I naturally just dismissed these as old news from Nene’s first big contract offer he signed with the Nuggets after his rookie contact expired in the early part of the decade. So, there I was sifting through all kids of link titles trying to find out how much his offer from the Nets was — before it finally clicked.
I then took to my Twitter account describing my reaction.
“Holy sh*t, holy sh*t, holy sh*t — NENE RE-SIGNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Looking at the terms, it amazes me how Masai Ujiri got this deal done. Nene seemed furious towards the Nuggets after the season ended for not offering him a contract earlier on in the year. He felt disrespected and seemed determined to find a different franchise that would treat him the way he felt he deserved to be treated. Perhaps all this was summed up best in an interview he did with Yahoo!Sports’ Marc J. Spears in which he stated the following:
I learned last season that this was a business… It was very stressful for me and I don’t want to go through this in my career anymore… When the season was over they didn’t offer me nothing good… They did what was best for them, and now I need to do what is best for me… God put me in this opportunity to be one of the top players in free agency, and I’m going to take advantage of it… It’s not about the money… I need help. I need good players around.
Who’s to say what changed Nene’s mind. Word on the street — now that he’s reached an agreement to stay in Denver, of course — is that he never wanted to leave in the first place. And though there’s no doubt that Nene probably had reservations about leaving the same state where he’d lived for years and met his beloved wife in, it just didn’t seem that way judging by his comments in the media.
What I will say is this: Masai Ujiri has done nothing but work miracles since his arrival in Denver roughly one year ago. First it was the Melo Drama. Throwing any rookie GM in that mess seemed to be a recipe for disaster. But Masai preached a mantra of patients and when the dust settled, turned the most sour, rotten lemon in the world into a luxurious, ice-cold glass of pure lemonade heaven (spiked of course).
Then came the draft. Everywhere in Denver there was wild speculation among Nuggets fans. There was just no way, after years of incompetence, that we finally had a GM who not only could handle trades, but draft well too. Somehow Roundball’s dream prospect, Kenneth Faried, slipped all the way to No. 21 where the Blazers had been clamoring about drafting him for months. And though it seemed impossible, that Faried would slip through the Blazers’ grasp, Masai again cajoled his opponent into giving him what he so desperately wanted. The Blazers miraculously passed on Faried (which had to be part the deal in my opinion) and selected Nolan Smith instead. That — that was the icing on the cake in terms of Masai’s coming out party in Denver.
But now this? After all the doom and gloom, the talk of rebuilding, speculation about Nene never even considering returning and most recently of Afflalo maybe not re-signing as well? This is what we get? Everything we could have hoped for?
I’m stunned. I’m amazed. I’m thrilled. I’m damn-well excited about my team and the direction we’re going. Rebuilding should be the last word on Nuggets’ fans tongues right now, because as long as we have Masai Ujiri, we also have faith that this team will continue to compete through thick and thin, no matter how ominous the circumstances appear to be.
Tim Tebow may be taking over the Mile High City as we speak, but Masai Ujiri is the one working the miracles.