Sports

2011 NBA Free Agent Analysis: Nene to the New Jersey Nets?

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By Cory Bernstein

Mike told me to hold off on writing about Nenê, but I can't resist. The New York Post has reported the Nets have interest in Nenê, and it seems that this report is legitimate. Nenê is a wonderful basketball player, one who can play both ends of the floor very well. Last season, Nenê had one of his finest years, averaging 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a season.

This is even more impressive when taken into account that he played for Denver, whom had an eleven man rotation, including big men like Kenyon Martin, Timofey Mozgov, Al Harrigton's dead body, and Bird Man Anderson. Nenê was one of the best players on a very solid team last year, and arguably the best free agent in this class.

Nenê is a very good offensive power forward and center who would be a force when paired with Brook Lopez. In a league that has been getting smaller over the past few years, the Nets would have two of the best big men in the NBA, and a Lopez-Nenê combo would be pretty close to unstoppable. Few teams have one good big man, let alone two.

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Nenê can also defend much better than Lopez, although he is not elite. He would struggle as a power forward (which would be his position assuming Lopez isn't traded) guarding some of the smaller power forwards such as Blake Griffin and Derrick Williams, but that shouldn't be too big of a deal. Nenê, Lopez, and Deron Williams would be a very solid trio to lead the Nets.

The biggest problem with Nenê is the salary he is sure to command. He is already 29 years old, and has an injury history (most notably a bout with testicular cancer). Is it worth it to sign Nenê for at least ten million dollars per year for four years? I say no, but the only problem is the Nets have to sign somebody in the next few weeks. With twenty million dollars to spend, Nenê would be a good spend, but that will also assure that Dwight Howard won’t join the Nets.

I'm not sure if Nenê is the long term answer at power forward; a Nenê, Lopez, Deron trio would be very good, but not good enough to lead the Nets to a championship like Dwight and Deron Williams could. I would not be opposed to signing Nenê, as he will help the Nets win games and make the playoffs, but may hurt the Nets in the long term. To have over ten million dollars locked up long term would make the Dwight and Deron dream combo stay in your sleep.

Get more great New Jersey Nets analysis over at Brooklyn-Bound.