The Lockout Begins; Nene Opting Out


The NBA Lockout is in full effect, so we have to tone down our free agent and offseason talks for next season – because there isn’t even a guarantee there will be a season.

For as tedious as the NFL Lockout has been, the NBA Lockout will be far much longer and far more demanding.

The NBA is looking at its profit loss over the last year and 22 of the 30 teams lost money last season and as a league it lost over $300 million, that’s an insane number to consider especially how popular the NBA was last season.

Couple of the main issues is that the owners want the money to be divided up 50-50 (currently the players are receiving 57 percent of the profit).

Another issue, which any rational person will agree, is that the owners want a flex cap – while the players see it as a hard cap similar to the NHL and NFL.

However, is it fair that some of the highest players last season were Kenyon Martin, Yao Ming, Peja Stojakovic or Andrei Kirilenko and teams were cap-strapped due to overpaid marginal players?

The interesting part of the NBA Lockout is that both sides seem rather calm and happy, not ominous or with a doomsday attitude. However, it is pretty apparent we are dealing with a member of society that has been pampered for much of their professional careers after receiving millions at a very tender age. So it is not surprising that they aren’t looking at the Lockout as more than little more then a vacation.

Just check out NBA.com to see how far the lockout has already gone.

Hitting closer to home, Denver Nuggets fans had a rude awakening into the lockout when the Denver Post learned that starting center Nene will opt for free agency instead of signing an extension with the Nuggets.

Most Nuggets fan took that as Nene not wanting to play for the Nuggets or as a ploy to get more money.

Chris Tomasson has been on the ball about this on Twitter and has tweeted about the entire situation:

Nene decision to opt out became much less risky after owners last week backed off totally hard salary cap & that Bird exception would stay. Not much of a chance Nene won’t be able to sign for at least 4 years under new agreement, which is what he’d have had he signed extension. If Nene were max guy it would be dumb to opt out but new CBA should still allow him to make more than the $11.6 mil would have made in 11-12. If these were normal times, Nene could do like Dirk Nowitzki did last year with Dallas and opt out and re-sign with old team right away. The biggest risk for Nene is if the lockout drags on & he could get hurt in a pickup game or blows up like Shawn Kemp in the last lockout. With his wife from Colorado & first child (son) said to be on way, would Nene really leave Denver as free agent when lockout over?

Dallas Mavericks’ Tyson Chandler and New Orleans Hornets’ David West have made similar moves.

We won’t know until the lockout ends, whenever that may be, what Nene’s decision is. Until then, here is some ideas to mull over.

There are a number of teams that could be interested in Nene’s services. Golden State, Houston and Portland have all shown interest, Miami has also sounded like his preferred destination.

Indiana and New Jersey could sign him out right, while teams like Atlanta, Philadelphia and Toronto have assets they could use in a sign and trade to get him.

If the owners have it their way the salary cap will drop significantly and could force the Heat to deal one of the Big Three – and we all know that the one that would/could be dealt would be Chris Bosh.

Would they be willing to deal Bosh to get Nene, who would be a slight drop off in production? Bosh would be the ideal big man for the Nuggets, giving them a go-to guy – who isn’t all that selfish.

Some other sign-and-trade options are:

  • Atlanta’s Josh Smith. Some experts think Nene and Al Horford work well together, but the Hawks are strapped for cash and sources are saying they are willing to deal Smith for help. Despite being far smaller then Nene, Smith put up slightly better numbers (he did shoot the ball an average of 13 times, while Nene had just under 9 attempts). at 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds.
  • Detroit’s Rip Hamilton: It isn’t likely, but it wouldn’t be a bad deal – especially if a pick is included. It is pretty apparent that the Nuggets want to build like the Dallas Mavericks and the Mavs built by adding veterans. Sure a draft pick may be added and Hamilton may be 34 (Birthday in February) when the season begins again, but he was solid in limited minutes last season and is about as consistent of a player as you get. Him and Andre Miller wouldn’t be a bad bench.
  • Houston’s Luis Scola: The Rockets may be one of those teams on the threshold of the new salary cap, which would limit the amount of money they can offer Nene. However, considering how much they want Nene’s services would they trade Scola to get him? Scola is coming off of a career year, 18.3 and 8.2.
  • Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala: Iggy is one of the most under appreciated players in the League. He can score, rebound, pass, lead the offense and defend the opposing team’s top scorer. But he just can’t shoot. There really isn’t a spot for him since he plays shooting guard and small forward, but that never stopped George Karl in the past.
  • Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani: If there was a most likely sign and trade, this would get my vote. The Raptors need a low-post scorer and aren’t opposed to trading Bargnani. Bargnani rivals Danilo Gallinari as the top Italian player in the NBA and two may (not positive) compliment each other on offense. But hurt the Nuggets on defense.

Bottom line is we don’t know what Nene will do, if he is set on staying in Denver or leaving the Nuggets or just trying to get more money. So this is all speculations and if free agency started today we’d know more, but we won’t know the truth for a very long time.

Tags: Al Horford Andre Iguodala Andre Miller Chris Bosh Dallas Mavericks Danilo Gallinari David West George Karl Houston Rockets Josh Smith Kenyon Martin Nene Peja Stojakovic Philadelphia 76ers Tyson Chandler Yao Ming