A Day of Action – Nuggets Re-sign Nene and Trade for Two

Well Nuggets fans, you wanted activity, how did today treat you?  In addition to adding Rudy Fernandez, Corey Brewer and DeMarre Carroll today, Denver has reportedly reached an agreement with Nene on a five year, $67 million contract.  The fifth year apparently was a key to sealing the deal as the average salary is well shy of what was available to him from other teams.

Denver has gone from woefully undermanned to one of the deepest teams in the NBA.  For those of you unfamiliar with the roster Denver has Ty Lawson and Andre Miller at point guard with undrafted free agent Julyan Stone able to back them up or play one of the win positions.  At shooting guard Denver has Rudy Fernandez, Corey Brewer and rookie Jordan Hamilton.  At the other swing position Denver can play Danilo Gallinari, DeMarre Carroll and the aforementioned Jordan Hamilton.  At power forward veteran Al Harrington is supported by rookie Kenneth Faried at power forward with Gallinari and Carroll also capable of filling in.  At center Nene will be supported by Chris “Birdman” Andersen (both of whom can also play power forward), Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos.  That list does not even include restricted free agents Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler.

In a season where the games come early and often, that kind of depth will be a tremendous asset.

The other important characteristic of this roster is the versatility.  Several players can play multiple positions.  George Karl will be able to mix and match.  They can play small, play big and anything in between.

From a monetary standpoint, the final year of the contract Nene opted out of would have paid him $11.6 million.  If the contract that was agreed to has the new standard 7.5% raise allowed under the new CBA and started off with an annual salary of $11.6 million it would be worth $66.7 million, which fits with what has been reported for the total salary.  As we discussed yesterday, the market for Nene was sitting at four years, $56-$58 million.  Add in the fifth year and this is a very reasonable deal for both Nene and the Nuggets.  There is potential for it to be a bit of a cap albatross in the last year or two, when he is 33 or 34, but even in the last year of the contract he is making $15 million, which with a higher cap after years of (assumed) economic growth, it will not be disastrous.

Of course there is the possibility Denver could have gotten creative with the deal and paid Nene $17 million up front and finished it out with payments of $12.5 million over the final four years to maximize any future cap space.  I do not know the details, but I will assume for salary purposes the contract is the standard deal with the 7.5% raise.  At this point the Nuggets are looking at an estimated $48.6 million in salary committed for this season.  That does not include paying anything to Afflalo or Chandler.  I expect Afflalo to sign for something in the area of $6 million and Chandler’s qualifying offer is a hair over $3 million.  Between those to Denver is near the salary cap for this season.

Looking forward in 2012-13, again assuming Afflalo signs for $6 million a season, Denver will have committed salary between $42 and $43 million.  That does not include qualifying offers for Gallo ($5.6 million), Koufos ($3.2 million) and Fernandez ($3.2 million).  Denver could still be a player on the free agent market and would have near max cap room if they amnesty Al Harrington.

The Nuggets appear to be set with a deep roster for the next three seasons at the very least.

While it is exciting to see the Nuggets retaining a competitive team I have to wonder just how good they will be.  This is a versatile team with fantastic depth that is built to win, in the regular season.  As I look at this roster I see a playoff caliber team, but not a team in position to compete for a championship.  When the games start being counted as the best of seven, I do not see how this group will find success.

They still need a superstar who can carry the weight of the team when the postseason arrives.  Maybe that player is on the roster and he has not met his potential as of yet.  Denver should be able to maintain their stretch of playoff appearances and they will still be fun to watch.  I just wonder if after building another strong team if they are actually any closer to winning a championship.

Rudy Fernandez Scouting Report

Most Nuggets fans are familiar with Mr. Fernandez as he has played with division rival Portland over his three years in the league.  Fernandez is a talented player who has seen his performance and role reduced with every successive year in the league.

Offensively, Fernandez plays with aggression on offense.  He has a very good feel for the game.  After posting very good percentages in his rookie season he has seen those numbers drop the previous two campaigns.  Last season he was 50th amongst shooting guards in TS%.  He only converted on 32.1% of his three point attempts.  To make matters worse 62.8% of his shots last year were from behind the arc.  He is a good free throw shooter converting on 85.5% for his career, but again there is bad news.  He attempts a mere .26 free throws per shot attempt.

Fernandez does take some wild shots.  He frequently pulls up while on the move and will be drifting as he shoots, which makes a shot exponentially more difficult.  Even when he is set his shot looks more like a fling and his arms are too far in front of him and I believe it causes him to struggle with distance control.

If you watch Fernandez play, he really does have a lot of natural ability.  He sees the floor very well and is a good passer.  His assist rate 21.0 is very good for a shooting guard and is comparable to Manu Ginobili, who had an assist rate of 22.3 last year.  He can get into trouble trying to make too difficult of passes sometimes as he has a tendency to attempt difficult passes through small windows.  Even so, he has a very respectable turnover rate of only 9.6.

He is competent at running the pick and roll although he settles for the long jumper a little too often and he struggles to finish in traffic although his conversion rate at the rim of 63.6 percent is acceptable for a guard.  When he cannot get to the rim, he is a little too eager to attempt difficult running one handers and he also seems to think he is capable of making a floater like fellow countryman Jun Carlos Navarro.

His favorite action is when he starts on the left wing, makes a circle cut around the top of the circle, takes a handoff and drives the lane, or takes a jumper.

Defensively, he is not helpless.  He has decent lateral quickness so because of his lack of girth he would find himself covering the opposing point guard.  He avoids contact and will only nab a rebound if it lands in his lap.

The one hope for Fernandez to regain his solid stats from his rookie season is that he will be more comfortable in Denver’s up tempo system.  He can run the floor well and with Denver running a lot of pick and roll after the Melo trade last season he very well could fit in there as well.  Fernandez does believe he is entitled to significant playing time so it will be interesting to see how he fits in for the Nuggets, or even if he shows up.

He has pined for a return to Spain and might be one of the few players who never wanted the lockout to end as he was playing there during the labor strife.  What kind of attitude Rudy has when he shows up will be very interesting.  He does become a restricted free agent after the season so he may very well head back to Europe after this season.  Still for the cost of only a second round pick and the fact that he comes to Denver along with Corey Brewer I think it is a risk worth taking.

Corey Brewer Scouting Report

Corey Brewer is hailed as an elite wing defender.  I took to Synergy to see him in action and was very unimpressed.  His on ball technique is very poor.  You can tell at some point he was told because of his length he can play back a bit and still recover to challenge the shot if his man rises up.  As a result, he plays off his man and to make sure he can reach him if he shoots he hunches over at the waist.  This completely throws his balance off and as a result he cannot react quickly to a dribble drive.  He also plays completely flat footed until his man puts the ball on the ground, which slows him down even more.  The result is he gets beaten off the dribble repeatedly.  I am not talking about a sick crossover or something difficult to handle.  After watching film on both Brewer and DeMarre Carroll I am convinced Carroll is the better defender and it is not even really that close.

He is also very slight of build and as a result he cannot handle even the slightest contact when he is retreating.  He also gets bounced around screens and does not do a good job of fighting through.

The good news is he is a solid team defender and that is when his length serves him best as he can fill in space and challenge passing lanes.  He is also very good at ball denial when he is tasked with that.

Offensively Brewer is not the complete disaster he is painted to be either.  He posted solid numbers on the catch and shoot from behind the arc converting 36.6% in that situation.  He can also take advantage of defensive gaps to get to the rim.

The sad thing is when you look at this trade is Brewer is not the lockdown defender he is purported to be, but his percentages are also just a smidge under those of Fernandez who is supposed to be the offensive contributor out of the deal.

Hopefully Fernandez can find his niche with Denver and get back to being a solid contributor as he was his rookie season and as a result spurn the siren call of his homeland after the season.  If Brewer can continue to hone his three point shot and tweak his approach on defense he could be a very solid contributor.

The reality is this trade ultimately offers little more than some decent depth for the Nuggets as they enter the logjam of games between Christmas and the All-Star break.

  • FinazzAus

    Clearly over the moon about nene. I think we will find that the execs are getting a main core of players together and adding bits as we need it. We have only sign these 50/50 player to one year contacts it’s quit possible that we retain a few of them next season but doubt half of them will be back. I like this move because it makes us players in FA in years to come. With our starting 5 looking soiled we can begin to build a stronger bench of not so much second string players but boarder line starts. If you look at any championship team in the past most of there bench have a case for a starting spot. Just my option.
    Either way very excited now about the up coming season. Bring on basketball

  • PennLawNuggetsFan

    Does anyone else finding it interesting that in the ESPN video about Lamar Odom leaving LA, they report that Jordan Hamilton is an addition by the Mavericks? It’s amazing that even after a lockout, they can’t even sort out who was drafted and traded by each team.

  • PennLawNuggetsFan

    Also, Jeremy, I have to believe that Nene will be seeing more minutes at PF this year. I think you’re looking at:
    C – Mosgov, Anderson, Koufos
    PF – Nene, Harrington, Faried
    SF – Gallo, Carrol, Hamilton
    SG – Afflalo (soon), Fernandez, Brewer
    PG – Lawson, Miller, Stone

    I’m sure we’ll see small ball lineups where Nene is the biggest guy on the floor, but I think this is the likely starting lineup.

    • Tommy4daNuggz4ever

      I agree with this line up because GK has been so happy with what Mozzy has done over the summer and well i am sure that is how the convinced Nene to sign back with us by saying he can play in the 4 spot where he wants to be and i like the whole 6’10″ SF 6’11″ PF and 7’1″ C idea i think we will have a potential to be able to compete better this way and with the Thunder this year. their size is what really killed us and with the Deffensive upgrades we picked up it is really going to be a fun season points I can see us getting as well especially with the speed we are going to still have I am very excited about the Depth that we still have.

      • Mr X

        Ever used punctuation? That was the most difficult thing I have ever read.

        • Tommy4daNuggz4ever

          Sorry I will work on that.

          • trank

            it wasn’t hard to read at all and if it was too bad because i liked what you said and that’s what’s important in a comment box!

            • Tommy4daNuggz4ever

              THANKS trank i put some good thought in to it.

  • Sanokumo

    SO what I see is that we now have so much depth at the 2 we will really only get to see Hamilton sparingly at the 3, and with Nene and harrington at the 4 we will also only get to see Faried sparingly.
    I was hopeing we would get to see what these guys were made of this season. At least we should get a good look at Mozgov as center and Koufos as backup.
    Man I really hope you are right and Ujiri (spelling?) front loaded the Nene deal. I was really glad we finally stopped paying 1 fifth of our cap to a non-allstar starting PF and here we go again.

  • PennLawNuggetsFan

    Karl’s coaching history demonstrates his lack of fondness for playing rookies so I think this year Faried and Hamilton will learn and we’ll see much more of them towards the end of the season. Frankly, I’m happy about this. Both guys have plenty to offer because of their respective skills but learning the NBA game takes time. I’m perfectly content with a core rotation of Mosgov, Nene, Gallo, Afflalo, Lawson, Miller, Birdman, Fernandez for this season. I could see Faried getting minutes sooner than Hamilton because of his rebounding and toughness, but I think both are going to be in learning mode for a while.

  • PennLawNuggetsFan

    If we are able to add Chandler to this mix and Koufos can provide serviceable back-up minutes, you’ve got a legit 10 man rotation with some interesting additional pieces (rookies, specialty players) to go along with it. Jeremy may be right that this recipe may not be built for the postseason, but I still think that but for some incredibly poor reffing last year against OKC, Denver wins that series.

  • Ernie

    The reason for optimism is the Nuggets best game last year was against the Lakers when they played the big lineup and looked great. Then Moz got hurt against OKC in the next game and that was the end of the experiment.

    Also I think the value was there. Bill Simmons was predicting the Nets would pay $100M for Nene for 5 years in a sign and trade, so $67M for 5 seems fairly reasonable if production doesn’t fall off.

  • http://nugznazty.wordpress.com/ Owen

    i think afflalo and bird healthy we win that series. also, felton was terrible.

    i think we should look at flipping some of our free agents to a weak team for a more dominant .. i dont know what position ! log jammed minutes– but OP is correct – all these young players and talent will make old teams on their back-to-backs look older

  • Frontrange

    Just want to point out . .

    New Jersey is an hourly rumor mill, just like last year.

    Denver is quiet as mouse.

    I guess in retrospect – all those leaks were coming either from the ‘Melo camp on the east coast. Kind of funny that Nets owner threw a fit over the trade leaks and now is in the same situation again.

    Good luck Mr. Preident.

    • Lil Rik

      hmm… interesting aint it?

  • Tommy4daNuggz4ever

    OK I know the Nuggets were talking to Speights about coming if Nene didnt sign but who thinks he would be better than Clark I think Speights would be a better fit still I know it would cost another 2nd rounder but I really dont want to see Clark on the roster

    • FinazzAus

      Yeah I agree, Clark is an already flogged horse. No good

    • AAA

      I would rather speights over Clark, big al and especially koufos

      • Tommy4daNuggz4ever

        How about trade al for speights and leave a roster spot open for Chandler lol

  • Omar

    nuggets currently brought out clark to denver. i expect him to sign today, he will fit in nicely. harrington might also get amnestied pretty soon since we have a roster overloads. speights might still be attainable and i’ve seen him play he is a solid center who can run the floor. looks like faried woill not be getting any minutes this year.

    lawson/miller
    afflalo/fernandez/hamilton
    gallinari/brewer/hamilton
    nene/clark/faried
    mozgov/anderson/koufos

    • Tommy4daNuggz4ever

      I see it more like this:
      Lawson/Miller/Stone
      Afflalo/Fernandez/Hamilton
      Gllinari/Brewer/Carrol
      Nene/Clark/Faried
      Mozgov/Anderson/Koufos
      But this doesn’t leave room for Chandler or Speights.

      • aussienuggsfan

        I think I prefer demare carroll to brewer as a lockdown defender off the bench. I hope we flip Fernandez so j ham can get minutes and I would prefer we bring back chandler and trade for speights instead of clark and really don’t see anything in koufos

      • http://www.google.com/ Lenna

        It’s always a plauerse to hear from someone with expertise.

      • http://etaiaawhdqyb.com/ xlhbylhcau

        iaoHCI bwobbjafattr

  • ParkHillNative

    How likely is it that Harrington will actually be amnestied? I see the idea being tossed around a lot on blogs, but I wonder if that’s just a hope that a lot of people have.

    • aussienuggsfan

      I hope we do amnesty him so faried can see good minutes unless we could trade for a big contract and a high pick and use the Amnesty on that perhaps. I hope we explore that possibility first.

  • Michael (anotheraussienuggzfan)

    It’s more likely Harrington gets amnestied next year to free up the cap room for a better market of Free Agents.

    With the team “loaded” the way it is, I’m not sure what will happen this season.

    1. We keep all the guys we’ve signed and use our depth to rest guys on the back to back and back to back to back nights. This way we keep some of our legs fresh and it allows a good spread of the playing time.

    2. We stockpile all these guys to provide trade chips for the deadline to take on expiring contracts and picks.

    3. We keep all the guys and GK stays with a 7 man rotation and the guys not in the 7 get the sads and start demanding trades or complaining and bring down the morale of the team.

    There are various other posibilities obviously but these are a few that I thought to be more likely.

    I hope the first option is what happens. A lot of the guys we’ve brought in haven’t had starters jobs before so won’t really be missing the minutes apart from maybe Brewer and Fernandez (not a starter but expects more minutes).

    Having a big rotation has always worked well for GK while at the Nuggets, he had great success with it in his first few months with the team but then went away from it in favour of the 7 man rotation and we saw the results of the second half of last season.

    • AAA

      I like the second one

  • FinazzAus

    I would have liked to see a roster spot or two left open for any player that get cut by the cluse. The guys filling out spots 14 and 15 most likly would see any minutes this year. There will be some bargain to be had real cheap once teams start using it. Just look at billups, for the clippers to get a guy like him who was being paid 14 mill, for the bargain basement price of just of 2mill is a steal. That’s how you get a championship team, get players under there worth while still being able to sign big contacts.

  • AAA

    I really hope we package up some of these players for a star or a high draft pick which becomes a star.
    However the tricky thing is deciding what position.
    Lawson and afflalo are locked into the guard spots and obviously nene will be our pf. GK seems sold on galloand though I think chandler has more potential.
    When you look at it we really only have one position that isn’t that secure and that is centre. Mozgov is an unknown however there arent really any stars at centre that are attainable unless we got Andre Drummond in the draft.
    Barring that happening unless someone in this lineup takes a big step this year I think we need to make some big decisions .the most obvious to me seems to be the sf spot has it is easier to find a star at that position and not sold on gallo yet (although wouldn’t be surprised if he break out). I have been watching college games and I dream for the day we can draft a player like Quincy miller of Baylor (reminds me of durant)

    • aussienuggsfan

      Can’t see us being that bad now to get Drummond or Quincy miller or even like a Kidd-gilchrist but I would prefer them to any players we currently have on our roster . We can only hope that we flip some of our assets for a big name or we turn into the 04 pistons. I am up for either.

  • Eddie

    What are the chances Afflalo signs? I know, it’s 50/50, he will or he won’t. But I mean Vegas odds. Grantland had a good article but it was written a while ago. I’d like to see Arron back, just don’t overspend.

    I feel really bad, again, for Chauncy. One day saw him go from starting point with a great 4 to being relegated to teacher role. A role he said he was tired of filling.

    Maybe he will tell Stern to stick it, retire and become an assistant coach for the Nuggets.

    It is, after all, the season for hopes and dreams to come true.

  • Manimal

    Is it wrong that I hope we suck this year because obviously I would prefer a championship but this team isn’t doing it and this draft class is loaded.
    We should also trade a lot of our guys for picks, maybe gallo but not sure. Btw think chandler might be better .
    Shoot me now for not being the biggest gallo fan like everyone seems to be

    • Andy

      How bout we get rid of fernandez. I like the trade because it was a steal but don’t want to keep him. Bad character guy, reminds me of jr smith except without athleticism, highlights, clutch (jr can be because of his irrational confidence) and has less potential. What do you think about signing jr smith when he gets back and playing him at the 3? Maybe be the go to scorer we need, and maybe given the license to shoot we would be less worried about getting his

    • aussienuggsfan

      Maybe instead of sucking we trade for picks because I don’t want to spend the year watching a bad team, I really enjoyed the end of last year and maybe if the refs called offensive goal tending we might have gone further in the playoffs…

    • Matt Henry

      Trust me, Chandler is far better than Gallinari, and probably has more potential as well. For some reason everyone thinks Gallinari is the second coming of Dirk, or even Bird. As a former knicks fan I can tell you he isn’t. Trading Gallinari for picks would be a very wise move assuming Chandler still wants to be a nugget when he comes back.

      • Danny

        I agree big time just because gallo is a euro that can shoot doesn’t mean he is dirk. And the sentiment that chandler doesn’t want to be in Denver isn’t entirely true. I think he likes new york more but I think the reason these rumors started is because he is tired of being in gallinaris shadow, probably why he went to china to make a name for himself

  • Bryan

    JR Smith isn’t coming back here. His relatiobship with Karl is damaged beyond repair. You’re also underrating Fernandez. He’s hit plenty of clutch shots and is a good athlete. He posterized Dwight Howard in the Olympics. The problem with him is that he regressed after his rookie season. Hopefully, playing in a more up tempo offense will help him live up to his potential.

    • Matt Henry

      The scary thing is they’re both (smith and Fernandez) the same age. Honestly I think Smith is significantly better, and has a far better upside, if only he wasn’t so crazy… Oh well, who knows maybe him Mozgov and Gallinari will have some weird European synergy together.

      • Frontrange

        Thing is – being crazy is part of JR, you can’t call him a significantly better player ‘cept for that. it kind of like saying if my car had an engine it would be really fast. It is a key ingendient.

        Rudy may not as athletic, or have as good a handle, or as good a shooter, but he makes way better basketball decisions. I prefer JR, but I don’t think it is miles apart – you have to take the good with the bad.

        • Aussienuggzfan2

          Fernandez is just as much of a head case. Ask any Portland fans. I would rather gamble on the seemingly unlimited potential of jr in a starting role at the 3

  • aussienuggsfan

    Why didn’t Carmelo force a trade to the clippers ? I wish we could have got a package similar to what new Orleans got. I looked back at some of the previous draft classes and if new York knew how to draft we could have got a great deal for Carmelo.
    They picked gallo over Eric Gordon and jordan hill over demar derozon. Grinds my gears

  • Peter

    So who takes the last shot down by 2? I hope it’s not Andre Miller. This season is huge for Gallinari. His game actually reminds me of J.R. Smith without the attitude. He is consistently inconsistent. Can he turn the corner this year and become our go-to scorer? Or will Ty Lawson be our best player? Hopefully this team can mesh quickly and have good chemistry, but with no superstars we have a long way to go to before we are anything like the 2004 Pistons.

    • Danny

      If nene could shoot free throws he has the potential to take the last shot. Against opposing 4s he should be able to spin and dunk on them every possession. It is frustrating because it’s as though he doesn’t realize how physically imposing he is

    • Colby

      I give the last shot to Arron. I remember watching the game against Dallas when he hit that game winner with Chauncey and Carmelo. I was pumped. It was late here and I was so pumped that I screamed and woke up all of my roommates. It was well worth it. That was awesome.

      • Aussienuggzfan2

        Afflalo handled himself so well at the end of that game and I think that he might become a sort of go to guy at the end of games and his so called limited offense will prove to be the opposite

  • Aussienuggzfan2

    Btw I think Denver should trade these mediocre players for picks because you don’t win with a team like this. Look at the okc thunder, durant Westbrook and harden all top 5 picks because they learnt to suck it up and just suck already. AND GALLINARI IS NOT GOING TO BE AN ALLSTAR . Chandler has more chance of doing that than him.

  • JRSMITH4PREZ

    Good news Denver faithful I went through a all the teams in the league and we might have a decent shot still at being bad enough for a top ten pick and once you are in the lottery you never know. Hopefully a loyal version of Carmelo like Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd gilchrist or Quincy miller. FINGERS CROSSED :) gallo blowing out a knee might be the sealer. With brewer, Carroll or j ham starting we put ourselves in prime position to join the other lucky basement junk like the raptors and bobcats. JUST REMEMBER TO SUPPORT TEAMS LIKE the warriors, hornets, suns, rockets, net and jazz so they can knock us down into where you win championships… THE LOTTERY. Ujiri you are a genius