In a shocking trade deadline move the Denver Nuggets have agreed to trade Nene for Wizard’s center JaVale McGee. Nene has been struggling this season and his contract is bound to get onerous as he gets into his 30′s and McGee is a uber-athletic center who will be great running the floor and is a much better rebounder and shot blocker than Nene.
In the long run it probably is a decent trade for Denver, McGee is entering his prime while Nene is exiting his, but McGee has shown significant shortcomings on both ends of the floor. Plus he wants a contract averaging $14 million a year after this season.
Check back throughout the afternoon and evening for more thoughts on the trade and make sure you leave your comments below.
Meanwhile, enjoy seeing McGee run to the other end of the court after his team gets an offensive rebound.
Update: 2:14 PM MDST - Benjamin Hochman is reporting that Ronny Turiaf’s expiring $4.3 million contract was included to make the salaries match. Turiaf is a very good defender. I think Karl will like him.
Update: 4:49 PM MDST - John Hollinger is speculating that Denver might have been able to fit the salaries of McGee and Turiaf into the TPE from the draft night Felton trade (Insider required). If that is the case, they get a $13 million TPE out of Nene. Denver has never used one of their big TPEs for a big acquisition, but they are very good at picking up solid pieces here and there.
Marc Stein is reporting that the Nuggets are close to coming to terms with Wilson Chandler on a five year, $30 million plus deal with a team option on the fifth season.
Regardless of how you feel about trading Nene, it is clear Denver is in a better financial situation than they were yesterday, and if they sign Chandler I am confident in saying they are a better team going forward.
Update: 6:19 PM MDST (by Charlie)
I think I speak for everyone here when I say that was quite a shocker. Minutes after the trade deadline “officially” passed, word came out that Denver traded its highest paid player for two expiring contacts and no picks.
It’s an incredibly shrewd move for a young front office that hasn’t been the least bit shy about spending. I thought some of Josh Kroenke’s and Masai Ujiri’s inexperienced showed over the summer when they went on an all-out spending binge to reassemble a team that realistically did not prove it was capable of advancing past the first round.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the front office has done a fantastic job building around a young core of talent, but there were warning signs from the start of the season that this team was headed in the wrong direction. Denver’s promising young rookies were withering away on the bench while George Karl had to manage a juggling act of developing talent and trying to get his big money cornerstones to live up to their contracts.
The end result was a mismatched roster who barely played hard and didn’t seem to know if they were coming or going. If the goal was to win now, Denver was clearly missing several key pieces to even think about contending for the West. If the goal is to develop a young, stable core for continued success , the Nuggets were doing a poor job considering none of the best young players even saw the court.
Being faced with trying to re-sign Wilson Chandler was a wake up call. Denver had blown all of their flexibility just as soon as they acquired it. Retaining the current core while trying to add Chandler and a newly extended Lawson would not only push them dangerously close to luxury tax territory, it would probably still leave significant holes in the roster without much flexibility to fill them all.
So Nene is salary dumped. Denver’s prized Center they spent a decade developing turned into a big money mistake and the enigmatic JaVale McGee. I think McGee is a good player, but considering where the Nuggets are headed it’s hard to say with any sort of certainty that retaining him should be part of the plan. There just isn’t enough time to evaluate. This deal was about getting out of Nene’s contract and committing to Kenneth Faried.
That’s what’s so beautiful about this trade. Denver’s previous front office regime didn’t have nearly enough nerve to admit a mistake soon after they made one. The Nuggets have been so afraid about being a bad team they’ve sacrificed their future time and time again for the sake of being respectable right now.
Make no mistake, the Nuggets took a step back today with this trade. In a tough playoff series you want Nene over JaVale McGee ten times out of ten no matter who else is on your team.
The good news is Denver has the youth and depth to pick up the pieces and move forward. Financially, they are so much better off that even if this no-superstar gamble doesn’t work out, the Nuggets have the means to keep improving. They’re no longer making five-year commitments for the sake of what’s best for the team this year and the next.
It’s a tough lesson learned, but one that will probably end up a lot less costly than it should have been.