Analyzing the Nene for JaVale McGee Trade

In order to wrap my head around the trade that sent longtime Denver Nugget Maybyner “Nene” Hilario to the Washington Wizards I had to compartmentalize my thoughts and feelings into several different categories.  I will go through them one at a time in order to attempt to break down a trade that took everyone by surprise.

Personally

My initial reaction to hearing about the trade was utter disbelief.  Nene was by far the longest tenured player on the team.  While never a superstar, he had become somewhat of an institution.  Nuggets fans had watched him arrive in Denver as a raw completely unknown quantity after a draft night trade that saw former franchise player Antonio McDyess go to the New York Knicks.  I remember when Nene signed his contract in the bathroom during a summer league game after which he ran onto the court to take on one Amare’ Stoudemire.

We experienced his growth as a player, dealt with his injuries, winced at his shortcomings and ultimately became at peace with who he was.  When he was an unrestricted free agent following the lockout many Nuggets fans recoiled at the thought of him signing elsewhere.  When it was announced that the Nuggets committed to him with a five year, $67 million contract it was a sign the front office was determined to keep the core of the team together for the foreseeable future.

For better or worse, Nene was a Nugget and thinking of him in any other way was difficult, especially with no hint whatsoever that he could be gone.  It was a punch to the stomach and honestly it was a few hours before I could clearly think about the trade on its merits.

Statistically

There are a never ending number of statistics and it is usually easy to pick and choose numbers to make any case you want to make.  In this case, looking at the numbers between JaVale McGee and Nene and it is a landslide.  Nene tops McGee in True Shooting Percentage thanks to McGee’s horrible free throw shooting, assists/assist rate and usage rate.  In nearly every other category McGee surpasses Nene.  PER, field goal percentage, rebound rate, blocks, turnover rate, they all favor McGee.

Looking at the points per possession numbers from mySynergySports, McGee wins the offensive numbers while Nene has better points per possession allowed stats on defense.  There is one big red flag and this is for those who think McGee is a major upgrade over Nene defensively because he is a better rebounder and shot blocker, mySynergySports has Nene is 98th in the league allowing 0.79 points per possession on defense.  McGee is 388th credited with allowing 1.04 points per possession.

The two biggest stats that are in McGee’s favor are 24 and 2.46.  The first is McGee’s age making him more than five years younger than Nene.  The second is his salary this season in millions making him more than $10 million cheaper, but we will get into that a little later.

By many metrics, McGee is already the better player while being significantly younger and cheaper than Nene.

On the court

As I mentioned above, we all know Nene’s game.  He can look like a dominant All-Star one quarter and like a ten day contract player the next.  He is not explosive, but moves incredibly well.  He has great hands is a very good passer and can handle the ball.  He has the ability to be a very good defensive player, especially on the pick and roll.  However, that extra effort that used to make him stand out is no longer there.  He does not hustle to beat his man to the spot in the post.  He sags back far too often on the pick and roll.  Offensively, he plays too soft around the rim and has never been the rebounder he looks like he should be.

Still, Nene was a very good fit on the Nuggets.  He could score on the block and even though he typically had an advantage over whoever was defending him, he was content to be a secondary or even tertiary weapon on offense.  He could pass well making him a nice cog in the offense when everyone was moving.  He runs the floor well and finishes effectively.  Even when he made mistakes, you got the sense he knew what he should have done.

McGee’s game seems very highlight oriented. Sometimes the highlight is good in the form of a gravity defying dunk or an incredible rejection.  Other times it is stunningly bad like running back on defense when his team gets an offensive rebound or trying to dunk from five feet to far from the basket.  He is widely considered a player who has all the tools, but lacks the feel and focus to take advantage of them.

Even if McGee never gets any better, he still brings talents that Denver needs.  We already mentioned his rebounding and shot blocking.  He runs the floor more frequently than Nene does and will provide another option on the break along with Kenneth Faried and Corey Brewer.

Speaking of Faried as Charlie tweeted and wrote on this space earlier, removing Nene from the equation means the power forward spot in Denver now belongs to the Manimal.  McGee and Faried could be the best rebounding duo Denver has had in years although at the peak of his powers in Denver Marcus Camby could be considered a rebounding duo all by himself.

If McGee can learn the nuances of team defense and not just snipe for blocked shots like some big men both past and present tend to do from time to time, Denver could have a stifling defensive team.  McGee the long and athletic center, Faried the long, although admittedly undersized, power forward, Dainlo Gallinari has great size at small forward and has the potential to be a solid team defender, Arron Afflao has shown tremendous defensive abilities in the past with Ty Lawson providing quickness at the point.  Add in players like the soon to be signed Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewe, nubile rookie Julyan Stone and big men Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos and Denver could be fantastic defensively.

On offense it is possible things could flow even more smoothly without Nene clogging up the middle of the court on the block and bogging things down when he would hold the ball deciding what to do.  The addition of McGee also provides another solid offensive rebounder to pair with Faried’s exceptional offensive rebounding talent.

Financially

This is the real kicker.  Nene’s contract was palatable at this point, not even a year into its five year term.  After being faced with losing Nene, the fact the contract did not escalate into larger and large salaries year after year made it even easier to forget that paying Nene $13 million a year into his 30’s might be a hindrance to the team payroll.

To their credit, Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke apparently realized that from the start as they were reportedly shopping Nene all season long.  This trade will clear over $6 million off the books this season, although the prorated savings is likely closer to $2 million.  More importantly, if McGee does not pan out, it clears $13 million off the books over the next four seasons.

The short term savings have apparently allowed Denver to meet the financial requirements to sign Wilson Chandler.  The long term savings will provide the room to keep Chandler and sign Lawson to an extension if they so choose.

The big question is does Denver resign McGee next summer?  He will be a Restricted Free Agent following the season.  I strongly believe the Nuggets are interested in McGee long term.  If he is not retained then Denver will have basically dumped Nene’s salary for next to nothing.  McGee is rumored to have some lofty expectations for his next contract.  However, if he can be signed to a reasonable deal Denver can keep the current core of Lawson, Afflalo, Gallo, Faried, Chandler, McGee, Koufos, Harrington, Mozgov, Brewer, Hamilton, and Stone together for the next two seasons.  At that point Birdman’s contract comes off the books and Harrington’s contract is only half guaranteed allowing room below the tax line for Faried to be extended.

Of course much can happen between now and then, but the Nuggets will go forward with virtually no bad contracts and a young core to watch grow for the foreseeable future.

The Extras

Denver did not just acquire JaVale McGee, they also garnered Ronny Turiaf, a future second round pick from the Clippers and possibly a sizeable trade exception.

Turiaf has not played since New Year’s Day, due to an injured hand, but was active for Washington’s game in Dallas on Tuesday the 13th.  Turiaf is a tough player, a good shot blocker and a very willing defender.  I suspect he would endear himself quickly to George Karl.  The question is how long will he be around.  Denver now has the maximum 15 players on the roster.  In order to sign Chandler, one of them will need to be disposed of.  I suspect Turiaf is the most likely candidate to be bought our or waived, but it would not be surprising to see one of the youngsters let go.  Turiaf would surely get picked up by the Heat or Celtics or other contending team so a buy out resulting in Denver saving a little more cash should be a possibility.

ESPN and NBATV are both reporting the second round pick from the Clippers is going to the Wizards.  The Nuggets official press release claims that pick belongs to them.  With all the confusion that has gone on in the last 12 hours, I am giving the two media giants a pass and believing the Nuggets.  I am pretty sure they know what they received in the trade.

There has been no official confirmation on this, but as was mentioned in the initial post announcing the trade, John Hollinger who is one of the sharpest analysts out there, projected that Denver could have acquired a $13 million TPE or traded player exception from Washington for Nene.  Denver has had several large exceptions over the years starting with the Marcus Camby trade.  These exceptions last for one calendar year from the time they are received and cannot be combined with a player or another exception.  The TPE is basically a hole in the cap that would allow the Nuggets to acquire a player or players via trade whose salary is less than $13 million without sending any salary back.  Hollinger is speculating that Denver brought McGee and Turiaf onboard with the trade exception they acquired from trading Raymond Felton to Portland.  It is a fantastic tool to have available and while the chances of Denver bringing in an eight figure salary are slim to none, it provides the additional flexibility when dealing with other trades.

The Front Office

Whether you agree with this trade or not, the Nuggets management has made another decisive move.  They realized the risk that Nene’s contract posed to the future of the team and instead of hoping things would work out, they were active in making sure they received something in exchange for Nene before it was too late.  The easy thing to do would have been to wait a year or two and see what their options were.  They were decisive and reportedly began looking for a trade partner early in the season offering Nene to the Kings in exchange for DeMarcus Cousins when he was suspended by Paul Westphal.

I also give them credit for realizing this team for what it is, a good team capable of beating anyone anywhere that was not a serious contender.  The most optimistic fans may have thought the Nuggets could make a playoff run, but it had become painfully apparent that was highly unlikely, even once the team was back at full strength.  Kudos to Ujiri and Kroenke for being realistic about the state of the team, something many in their position fail to do.

Criticisms

While McGee is a good prospect and a true center I have to wonder if he was the best option for Denver.   I am sure many teams were not interested in Nene for the same reasons Denver wanted to trade him.  However, I have to wonder what other options were available.  Could Denver have nabbed a high draft pick or two from a desperate team such as Charlotte or New Jersey?  Could they have thought bigger and packaged Nene with Ty Lawson for Pau Gasol?

If Denver was indeed looking to move Nene for months since the start of the season, I am confident they did their due diligence and found the best deal for them.

Knowing Nene was going to be an Unrestricted Free Agent and likely command a larger annual salary than he was receiving previously ($10.5 million if memory serves), why wait to trade him until now when his value is lowered by his contract?  What if the Wizards had realize they were rebuilding and had no need for a 30 year-old veteran center/power forward?  I wonder why they did not explore this option at the last trade deadline?  Maybe his upcoming UFA status might have hurt his value a little, but surely it would not have been as much as his current contract did.

There is also the McGee is a knucklehead angle.  If Karl struggled to reach J.R. Smith, won’t he have the same issues with McGee?

Conclusion

As I consider all the various categories my ultimate conclusion is that this was a good, but certainly not great, trade for Denver.  McGee will bring more energy and potential to the Nuggets while allowing them to fulfill their goal of keeping this team together and giving the young core plenty of time to grow together.

I am undoubtedly sad to see Nene go and I wish him well in D.C.  I have been the one harping on how Denver needs to rebuild and this is certainly a small step in that direction.  As you peruse Denver’s roster everyone is 26 or younger except for Andre Miller, Harrington, Birdman and the short timer Turiaf.

I am sad to see Nene go and I hope he does well in D.C.  This is undoubtedly a good trade for the Nuggets and it will be exciting to see what McGee can become in the Mile High City.

Links

In closing I will just send my condolences to Orlando Magic fans who after going through a year of rumors, speculation and innuendo are destined to go through all the same silliness all over again. I could not imagine going through what we did with Carmelo for two seasons. At least the team can feel unified for a playoff run.

I do not like the Trail Blazers. Not one bit. I remember a night where they beat the Nuggets probably more than 20 years ago and I was so frustrated I had to go outside and shoot baskets in my driveway despite the fact it was zero degrees and the driveway was covered with snow and ice. Even so, my heart goes out to their fans for what they have gone through the past year. Watching the Nuggets/Thunder game tonight on the day when Portland waived Greg Oden I had to wonder what thins would be like if Portland had selected Kevin Durant first and OKC was saddled with Oden.

Of course I snapped out of it and selfishly, I am bummed Denver does not get to play the Blazers again this season.

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

    I think Mcgee will mature more in our system. His “Team” has been such a joke ever since he was drafted. He is going to have a group of fairly no-nonsense guys around him that will make him better (watching some of his videos where he screws around i think him and Big Al will really get on well with each other). He will continue to be an idiot, but less of an idiot. Let’s not forget that we almost made it to the finals with the biggest group of fools we could find a few years back.

  • Prizzy

    Jeremy: Good analysis but one quick comment. The Nene and Ty for Gasol trade possibility is ridiculous. One diving spaniard on the team is enough. Ty is worth more than Gasol straight up and we have more depth in the front court than we can handle. Lawson is a top 7 point guard.

    • al68

      Es dificil comparar a un C con un PG pero ojala como fan de los nuggets que Lawson llegue al 50% de lo que ha sido Gasol y nos de nuestro 1er titulo Nba.

      Nos habiamos librado de JR y KM y ahora cojemos a Ja Vale.

      Si fichamos a Chandler deberiamos de cortar a Rudy y que volviera a España ya tenemos para SG-SF 4 jugadores buenos y mantendria a Turiaf ya que defiende y es muy intenso algo que necesitamos de sobremanera.

      Como GK haga de el un jugador de basket sera para hacerle un monumento.

    • Joel

      But Nene + Miller for Gasol. Hook me up! They might have taken that, too…

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      Honestly I do not think either team agrees to Gasol (age and big contract negatives for Denver) for Lawson (negatives of size and style for LA) and Nene (contract and talent drop off from Gasol negatives for LA), but it is an example of something to consider.

      You clearly overrate Lawson. He is a borderline top ten point guard. Sure he helps push the pace, but whether or not Denver should be playing that style is an entirely different discussion.

      • pgwarner

        Thank you for pointing that out about Ty, Jeremy. I love the kid. I think we all do but I think all these high hopes of Ty developing into an elite PG are unfounded. I hear Scott Hastings talk about Ty that way now and I cringe. We have the fully developed Ty Lawson. He will improve some sure as he is coachable. He just isn’t going to make a big leap at this point. Plus, maybe its me but he seems pretty shy about driving these days even when a big sets him up.

  • James

    When I Heard Ty Lawson & Nene For Pau Gasol thats when i stopped reading lol ridiculousness

  • Klules

    Nice work Jeremy.

    Great assessment of my feelings on the matter. The money is the biggest thing and making the change will eventually make this team better.

    I have no high hopes for McGee but the competition between him, Koufos and Mozgov for PT will help. And I don’t see the Nuggets feeling any strong compulsion to resign him at any ridiculous contract after this year. With the trade exception and cap room we should be able to make some deals to get needs filled. Off the court I’m very high on where we’re going. On the court this team needs leadership and a stronger defensive presence that we all hoped Nene would be.

    I also read (somewhere) that initially Nick Young was part of the deal instead of Turiaf but that he wouldn’t give up his Bird rights for Denver but would to go to LA. Hence how the Clippers were brought into the mix. That is why I think the 2nd round pick to the Nuggets makes sense?

    Tough pill to swallow but it will make us better next year if not sooner.

    • Charlie

      Great thought Klules. I also concur on the Nick Young situation. Denver clearly wanted to acquire him as another asset and Young knew that. This trade was all about trading big expensive liabilities for a small, cheap assets and the freedom to do more things down the line, including signing Chandler.

      Like you said, I think this team had to jeopardize it’s future in trying to keep everything together and still add the defensive leadership they need. At the end of the day, it just made more sense to tear things down and prioritize. This team’s core talent won’t be peaking for another 3-4 years and the Nuggets need to make smart decisions now to ensure that future is a bright as it can possibly be.

  • Ernie

    I didn’t see if this was listed prior, but here are the 8 dumbest JaVale McGee plays:

    http://cosbysweaters.com/2012/03/12/javale-mcgee-top-8-dumb-plays/

    • DH

      Scary! Although I can see the basketball and financial sense in making this trade, I hate when my teams go after knuckleheads – no matter how talented they are. You can throw all the analysis out the window if the guy is an idiot. I have no choice but to hope he grows up, fast. On the bright side, he’s cheap, his contract is up, and we have 3 serviceable centers behind him. So if Karl doesn’t like his antics, he either sits or changes his ways.

      With that said, the real benefits of this trade are bringing back W. Chandler (which hasn’t happened yet, by the way) and having money to extend Lawson. With the assets we have (esp. if we get Chandler back) and the financial flexibility we gained, I think this trade had to be done even if JM is a total bust.

      P.S. I hate to hear that we tried to get DeMarcus Cousins. We finally have an unselfish team with high-character guys, which will pay off with more time and a couple more pieces. Why screw that up?

      • Ernie

        Yes, I hate rooting for a dumb team. But the kid is 24, it’s not impossible to think he can mature and become the next Tyson Chandler.

      • Bobby W

        I don’t find issue with going for the triple double. Washington stunk so why not? Keep in mind he took forever to get the points, but he did the dirty work of getting the blocks and rebounds. You put him in Denver with our pace and he gets 10-15 a night from transition and put backs alone. Then add him rebounding and protecting the rim with Manimal. I am excited. I

    • Aaron

      On That Last Video They Showed (#1) Clearly Shows He Cares More About Getting A Worthless Triple-Double Then Trying To Get A Needed Win…

  • Tony

    @ James – I completely agree.
    @ Prizzy – Likewise

    Getting rid of ty lawson and nene to the lakers would’ve made the lakers favorites in the west. they would then receive a true point guard and one who would push the pace for mike browns offense. Nene next to bynum would have been worrysome for us nuggets fans come playoff time

  • Sean

    All you need to know about the hypothetical Lawson + Nene for Gasol deal is that the Lakers would have said yes immediately. The Lakers don’t run a triangle anymore where a big guard is needed and though the picked up a bigger guard in Sessions, no one can seriously suggest that Sessions is a better fit on the Lakers than Lawson would be. Lawson doesn’t need the ball in his hands all the time and he creates problems for other teams because he stretches defenses out. Does this make him Deron, CP3, Rose, etc? Of course not, but there are very few of those caliber point guards anyway and the next tier is one that I firmly believe Lawson will find himself in for the next several years.

    I have no idea how McGee will ultimately pan out, but I at least appreciate the fact that this is now a team that is constructed to grow together in age and experience over the next several seasons with a bevy of very tradable assets to work with.

    • Sean

      Also, the notion that the Nuggets should have explored the Nene trade last year ignores the fluidity of all of these decisions. At this time last season our roster was in flux and there was very little in the way of stability. Additionally, it was impossible to know how it would all come together until it did.

      While I can’t be certain of this, I believe the Nuggets were hoping that with Carmelo gone, Nene would FINALLY take a step forward in the offense and assert himself to the tune of 16-18 ppg and closer to 10 rpg. However, Nene has largely continued to remain the known quantity (which is good, but not $13 million good) that he has been throughout most of his career.

      The crazy thing about Nene is I have convinced myself that he still has room to grow (a thought echoed each and every offseason he’s been a Nugget) and he may still. But once it became apparent that he hadn’t take a step forward, I think the FO did the right thing in looking to first lock him up (maintain the asset) and then move him. Letting him walk in FA would have been a big loss and trading him preemptively last year would have been forgoing the opportunity to evaluate the collection of new talent.

      Point being, I think this was another very sound basketball decision by our FO who, so far, has established itself as joyful anthesis to the likes of a FO team like the NY Knicks.

      • DH

        Wow, Sean. You stated this so perfectly that I can’t even add to it. I’ll just say I agree completely. Well done.

      • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

        That explanation sounds great until you factor in that the Nuggets were shopping Nene three weeks after they signed him. They did not take time to see if he raised his game, they knew that contract was going to be an albatross and were actively seeking to get out from under it.

        • DH

          Jeremy, I hadn’t seen a report of the Nuggets shopping Nene early in the season until you mentioned it. I’m not disputing it, but I am curious where you saw it. If true, they basically did an unconventional “sign and trade” and avoided losing Nene for nothing.

          • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

            From Sam Amick of SI:

            Another report, not sure where I saw it, said that when Cousins was suspended in early January Denver was the first call in an attempt to exchange him for Nene.

        • Sean

          Jeremy, maybe I wasn’t clear with the timeline that I’m proposing the Nuggets FO may have followed. I’m suggesting that between the time that Carmelo was traded until the end of the season was when the evaluated Nene for the reasons I suggested.

          At that point, the Nuggets had a little less than half a season and a first round playoff matchup to evaluate Nene and see if he took any steps forward in his development. I believe that this was a reasonably calculated risk and only with the benefit of hindsight (Nene not stepping his game up) can I criticize.

          From here, the Nuggets had the option of losing Nene outright to another team (lost asset) with the only benefit of that scenario being cap space (though with a salary floor that likely would have created additional problems) or signing Nene in the summer and looking for a trade partner either at that time or at some point in the future.

          A sign and trade would have been complicated for obvious reasons (right team for both the Nuggets and Nene). Because of this, I actually believe that the course of action taken here was the appropriate alternative. The number that they signed Nene for clearly wasn’t absurd given that other teams (Rockets, Pacers, Wizards) were interested in him at roughly that figure so while you’re point about this contract being prohibitive several years from now is well taken and correct, I still would argue that the contract as it stands right now is not a Rashard-Lewis-like bad contract.

          No I hope you know that this isn’t me being a cheerleader for the trade because I felt the same gut-punched feeling that you did yesterday when I saw the news. Rather, it is me, like you, trying to dispassionately analyze the factors that were likely at play in order to arrive at a coherent explanation.

          I’m not sure what McGee will ultimately turn into, but the worst case scenario here appears to be that we lose him in FA this summer to an offer that we don’t want to match–which would bring us right back to our alternative course with Nene (walking in FA this past summer). Again, the major distinction though between that time and this is that next summer we will have had the benefit of evaluating not just one player (Nene) with this team, but two (McGee). Call me crazy, but this seems like a fairly well-reasoned approach.

          • Sean

            Forgive the typos, I was writing this at the tale end of my Criminal Law class.

  • Kyle Obergfell

    If anyone thinks it takes a genius to succeed in the NBA…
    I have two words for you.
    Karl Malone.

    • Ernie

      There is a difference between smarts and immaturity.

    • DH

      It’s not being dumb off the court that’s the problem (until personal issues lead to suspensions, arrests, or other repercussions that affect the team). It’s being “basketball stupid” that worries some of us. I don’t think anyone can accuse Malone of not knowing what he was doing on the court – or of only caring about himself and not the team. But I do get what you’re saying. And I’m hoping some of what he does on the court won’t happen once he’s on a team isn’t always at the bottom of the standings.

    • Frontrange

      I think Malone was an idiot, but he was also a smart basketball player . . .

  • Frontrange

    Count me as among supports of a Ty/Nene for Gasol trade . . .in fact before Portland started dumping players, I would have offerred Ty/Nene for Felton/LA figuring that is easier to find a good PG today than good big man.

    I like T – a lot, but if we are going to give up on Nene I would have preferred to doing a 2-1 to get a significant upgrade instead of leaving us in no-man’s land slightly worse team but not bad enough to get a good pick.

    I hate to add dumb players as that seems to be a hard thing to fix . . can’t remember a really good player who started out as an idiot and “got it”. I can remember a lot of dumb players who never figured it out.

    Finally, I thought Nene was really happy to be back in Denver and I feel bad for a dump to the Wiz . . .if it was just going to be a salary dump a single year of possible upside, I wish we had sent him somewhere meaningful like say Houston for picks.

    • Aaron

      We Traded Him To One Of The Best Possible Spots For Us..We Wont Ever Face The Wizards In The Playoffs, We Hardly Play The Wizards And There A Horrible Team. If We Give Him To Houston Then We Have To Play Them 3-4 Times a Year AND There a Playoff Contender That We Have a Good Chance Of Playing Against In The Playoffs.
      Besides Houston Has Scholar At PF And Dalembert At Center, All 3 Of Those Guys Are For Sure Starters, And They Also Wont Waste Picks For A Would Have To Start On The Bench…it Wouldn’t Work Out For Houston One Bit At All.

      • Aaron

        Scola*

      • Frontrange

        Not arguing the wisdom of getting him in the other conference . . . but, I still think it is a shitty way of treating a class act like Nene. Would have preferred sending him to a contender or team trying to improves itself instead of the mess of the Wiz; that’s all.

        Last night when my 9 year old daughter was crying for an hour “but he’s my favorite player . . and they traded him to a team that sucks.” I didn’t have much a reply as consolation. Saying, well we have more cap room to sign Chandler and Lawson – guys our billoniare owner could sign anyway; and we got a legitimate slam dunk championship level competitor even if he is an idiot didn’t do the trick.

        • Ernie

          Nene made more money signing the contract with the Nuggets than he could have with any other team. As much as we all like Nene, really that was the dominant factor. If the Wizards could have paid him more he would have gone there. Otherwise he would have signed an extension with the Nugs at the end of last season.

  • http://bobcatsbaseline.com ASChin

    Great piece of writing. Will say this as a Bobcats fan, the team isn’t “desperate” — they are in Operation TANK MODE to earn a high pick this year and bottom out towards the summer of ’13 when they’ll have the cap flexibility to facilitate trades and take back big contracts like Nene’s.

  • Kieran

    Not sure what adjective you were looking for in describing Stone, but I’m pretty sure nubile isn’t it.

  • HD

    1 for 2 Ujiri…I feel awful for Nene and how this worked out. We watched him mature and take over for both McDyess and Camby. It breaks my heart. Nene and his family have been nuggets through and through. Andersen now the only one left from our 2009 playoff run.

    McGee is a 7ft Jr Smith, who is as big or a problem as Blatche. I wonder if our peaceful team will change when this “problem child” is added. Nene could have signed elsewhere but decided that he would remain loyal despite all the stiffies over at Denverstiffs.com calling him names like charmin or softie. His loyalty wasn’t rewarded and we kicked him to the curb like he was nothing more than a cap issue.

    God bless Nene and you have my thoughts and prayers that you succeed in your next endeavor.

    • Pidao

      I couldn’t agree more with you. It is hard to see people saying bad things about Nene for several reasons.
      – He was in Denver for 9 years and grew with the team (Denver was a 17-65 when he arrived) and he developed his game and his body to became the player that he is today (a very good one btw).
      – People forget that he is so unselfish because of team play and winning (name one guy in the team that doesn’t like this Nene for his team first attitude).
      – I know that the NBA is a business, but I still think that is the WRONG move to ditch some of the players that have identity with the team and and really love the city, just because of cap space or because they are old and their good days are behind. We all remember how glad Masai was saying that with this last contract, Nene would probably retire as a Nugget. The same thing happened with Billups (although that with Nene it was worst because now he is stuck in a losing team after he declined more money from the Nets just to stay in Denver). Guess what, I prefer to have Billups and Nene in the team and continue to be a first round playoff team than a team that filled with players that with no identity.

  • Jbirdman

    Initially shocked… but great move by a front office that is keeping the team relevant while rebuilding for the future. I always had an optimistic outlook on Nene but he should have been the next Karl Malone by now… he has all of the right attributes but just simply lacks the intensity and leadership. When he signed that contract that made him the face of the franchise and that comes with the responsibility of stepping up the leadership. I feel for him but we overpaid to get him so that was his parting gift.

  • Mitch

    I’m biased towards Nene but understand the rationale for the deal. My only question is why now? It would have been nice to see how the team did in the playoffs and then they could still trade him this summer and possibly gotten a better piece than JM.

  • Jbirdman

    Now they can assess JM’s game while playing on a good team and have the chance to match any offer he gets as opposed to overpaying… See Nene’s contract.

  • Mitch

    As you can tell I’m not thrilled with JM. I’m tired of guys with potential who can’t put it together. For all his faults Nene had a solid game both ways and I prefer him to the flashy but unsound Blake Griffin.

  • Jbirdman

    Stats don’t lie. Blake, Scola, Humphries, Aldridge, Lee… All have similar if not better stats, are injured less and make less to much less than Nene. The Nuggets dropped this so so contract before it turned to a bad unmovable contract. They’re better off hoping a youthful player can get better as apposed to a guy in his prime. This is who Nene is he’s not going to get better. JM is has a much bigger upside with very little risk.

    • Pidao

      How come all these players a injured less than Nene??? If you see the last 3 seasons (after he was cured from cancer), Nene has played in 234 games and started in 233 (almost 80 games per season – not including playoffs). If you check, you will notice that none of the guys that you have mentioned have done that.
      This is a crazy season in which we cannot consider these injuries that he had because it is a lockout with no preparation season

  • DH

    Anybody heard anything on Wilson Chandler? We have to get this done in order to justify the Nene trade, in my opinion.

  • eddi0

    So to me the million dollar question is…when (not if) we sign Chandler who starts at PF? I think our depth chart should look like this:

    C-McGee/Mozzie/Koufos
    PF-Chandler/Faried/Bird
    SF-Gallo/Harrington/Brewer/Hamilton
    SG-Afflalo/Rudy
    PG-Ty/Andre/Stone

    I don’t believe you can put Chandler on the bench for the kind of $ he’s about to sign for ($6-8M/yr.). We have so many “tweeners” on this team: Koufos can play the 4/5, Harrington can play 3/4/5, Bird can play 4/5, Chandler can play 2/3/4, Brewer can play 2/3, Hamilton 2/3, Rudy 1/2, Gallo 3/4/5, etc.

    Point being, we have so much flexibility with the new, improved Nugs but I think we need to start thinking about clearly defined roles. Jack of all trades, master of none is a phrase that comes to mind when I think of the Nugs. It’s great to be versatile but confusion on what is expected of a player can be a negative bi-product of versatility. Clear up what the identities of the players are/should be and I think we’ve got the best Nuggets roster, dare I say ever.

    Lastly, I want to give a big shout-out to Carmelo Anthony for forcing a trade to the Knicks. Without you, Carmelo, we would not have the best Nuggets roster in over 20 years. Thank you for your continued selfishness in NY (and mediocrity), not a day goes by that I don’t give thanks for all you do and have done to the great city of Denver. :p

    • Andy

      I don’t think the problem is a confusion of having to many roles, but of not spelling out particular roles for particular groupings. For example, I think the Nuggets could play three widely different sets based upon the opponent: Big, Normal, or Small. When going Small they could trot out someone like Gallo, Faried, Afflalo, Lawson, and Brewer/Fernandez. No true center, but a really quick and fast lineup that could play against a team that doesn’t have a true, dominate center in the game. When going big they could go McGee, Faried, Harrington, Gallo, and Brewer. Really big lineup that features good outside shooting, decent ball handling, and the ability for anyone to post up and take advantage of mismatches.

      I just think the problem is not clearly defining those different player sets and then working on them to the point where Karl can swap in and out at anytime in a game and everyone knows what style of game will be played.

      Hell, I’m still waiting to see a lineup of Gallo, Lawson, Faried, Mozzie, and Koufus that just dominates the boards and the paint.

    • Aaron

      Switch Harrington And Chandler And Start Faried.

  • Desean

    McGee is immature at times, BUT y’all acting like he is a locker room cancer which he certainly is not. He works hard and guys like Andray Blatche fool were the real problems. Give him a chance

  • Desean

    Plus it’s lob city time in denver

  • clive

    wow horrible writing. seriously…

  • Samc

    Stoked to see mcgoo in action! Is he gonna be suited up for the celts tomorrow?

  • Tom

    If this was mainly a salary dump, then we should have traded Nene to a contender for a couple of picks at least. I don’t think McGee makes any sense on this team unless he’s part of a future trade in the off-season. Can anyone honestly picture McGee being a starter on a championship contender? Nene could most definitely be the missing piece for a championship team, so it’s pretty sad that we traded him to the black hole they have in Washington.

    The only way this trade looks good is if Nene seriously regresses in the next few years and/or McGee matures into a nice player this year (which is not going to happen). If McGee doesn’t prove his worth over the rest of the season, I can’t see the Nuggets keeping him. If we let McGee walk, then this trade is almost like the one where we gave Camby away for nothing. Picks would have been better than McGee.

  • Andy

    What disappoints me about the trade was the glaring inability to sell high and buy low. I know hindsight is always 20/20 but perhaps the Nuggets could have cashed in the summer on a sign-and-trade of Nene, Felton and Mozgov to the Lakers for Gasol?

  • Golden Fan

    You better watch your criticisms on JaVale. Many “knucklehead” players are supposed to have those criticisms because they played on bad teams. It is like D-U-H. I like the article about how sad is for Nene to go, but you can’t judge McGee that harsh. Remember the time when Ron Artest signed with the Lakers. At first, many believed that his knucklehead reputation will kill the Lakers but look at the end of the season, they were the champs. You just can’t judge the value of a player just because he made knucklehead moments there. Bad teams obviously will have their bad moments, of course. But what will McGee be like if the Wizards are a good team. One thing is certain, has anyone noticed that JaVale noticed and accepted those criticisms unlike JR Smith? See him play with the Nuggets and we’ll see if you can prove me wrong RMC

  • venonaD

    1. Maybyner “Nene” Hilario…He changed his name from Maybyner Hilario to just Nene. You using his old name is kind of like calling Ali, Cassius Clay. Not cool.

    2. Nene means baby. He is the youngest of a boatload of siblings and that is what his father called him.

    3. He should change his name again…to Besta (beast) cuz he plays like a baby. One no call foul against him and he wa s done for the night.

    4. He coulda/shoulda been great…he had all the tools…just never had the heart. I’m glad he is gone but wish him well. Almost as good as getting rid of JR Smith, the least basketball smarts in the entire NBA. Denver needed a change of diet, no more hot dogs, no more cream puffs. Hope that’s not too harsh.

  • venonaD

    PS very well written article…good job man