Denver Nuggets general manager, Masai Ujiri, had two major goals when it came to approaching the 2011 NBA free agent market.
Goal #1: Resign Nene. Check.
Goal#2: Resign Arron Afflalo. Check
This means that there will be plenty more of this:
While there was never much doubt that Afflalo would stay in a Denver Nugget uniform despite wide interest throughout the league, there was a lot of suspicion that longtime Nuggets big man, Nene Hilario had played his last game with the Nuggets.
When Nene turned down an extension from the Nuggets earlier in the year in hopes of testing the free agent market, it appeared that Nene was on his way out. Things didn't get better for Nene supporters as early in free agency the Warriors, Pacers, Nets, Mavericks, Heat and the Pacers among others showed vast interest in the 6-foot-11 power forward/center from Brazil.
There was speculation that the Nuggets were going to have to send the house at Nene with a 5-year, $105 million offer to keep him in Denver. Under the new CBA rules, every other team wishing to win Nene's services would only be able to offer him a four year max contract that would have an 4.5% increase as opposed to the five year, 7.5% increase max contract that the Nuggets would be able to offer.
The possibility that was mentioned was a sign-and-trade deal in which the Nuggets would sign him and then ship him off to a destination like Dallas or Miami who didn't have the cap space, but were at the top of Nene's list. The Nuggets would then have a similar situation as the Carmelo Anthony saga and at least get something out the deal.
But after those rumors began to sputter, and teams like the Pacers, Rockets, and Warriors started to look elsewhere, it appeared there were only two possible destinations for Nene, either the New Jersey Nets, or the Nuggets.
The Nets were trying desperately to land a big named player to play with point guard Deron Williams in hope of convincing Williams to commit long term to the Nets. The Nets were the most active team in trying to pry Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic which proved unsuccessful. The Nets then offered Nene a 4-year, $60 million contract to the Brazilian. One day later, Nene announced he would stay with the Nuggets for a 5-year, $67 million contract.
While $13.4 million a year isn't exactly cheap, the Nuggets could have ended up paying a lot more for a player who turned 29 a couple of months ago. If Nene didn't sign with the Nuggets, Denver probably would have had to spend money on players they didn't necessarily want based on the new CBA rules requiring NBA teams to have minimum payroll.
So after finalizing Nene's deal, Denver's front office then turned its efforts towards Afflalo who was a restricted free agent.
Afflalo is coming off a year in which his shooting percentage continued to rise but wasn't able to put those improvements on display down the stretch due to a hamstring injury. The 26-year-old is considered a very good perimeter defender and one of the leaders on a very young Nuggets team.
Like Nene, there was wide-spread interest in Afflalo at the beginning of free agency with sources saying that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls would be interested in a sign-and-trade as well as the Nets and Timberwolves were interested in signing the fifth year shooting guard from UCLA. The advantage that Denver had with Afflalo was that he was only a restricted free agent which means if Denver matched any other offers Afflalo received, he would stay in Denver.
Afflalo also received a 5-year deal worth around $45 million. While this was probably more than the Nuggets wanted to spend, it was a deal the Nuggets felt they had to make and now gives them a young, deep and talented rotation which will be extremely useful considering the short and compact schedule.
Afflalo will join the Nuggets for their second preseason game against the Phoenix Suns tonight. With Afflalo joining the starting lineup for the Nuggets will most likely be Ty Lawson, Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Nene and Timofey Mozgov with Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez, Corey Brewer, Kenneth Faried and Chris Anderson being the back ups who will see the most court time.Back to the Denver Nuggets Newsfeed