Via the DP:
Oddly enough, Carmelo Anthony isn’t the only Nugget this season that has an opt-out clause in his contract for next season. There are two.
Nene is the other.
But unlike Anthony, Nene – a native of Brazil – has grown to love the city of Denver, state of Colorado and desperately desires to stay. He wants to extend his contract with the Nuggets and says those talks have begun to some degree. He does plan to not opt out of the final year of his deal, which will pay him $11.6 million next season.
It is the last of a six-year, $60 million contract he signed in 2006.
Nene was very clear on Sunday when he said “For me, I want to retire here.”
Asked specifically if he wants to extend his contract with the Nuggets, Nene said “Definitely. I love the city. But I can’t control it. So that’s why I said my agent is going to do what’s best for me. I want to stay here. I have friends, I have family. All the fans have been supportive, they’ve been good to me. That’s what I can say.”
Pressed on the subject, asked if he was sure he wants to remain a Nugget, Nene said “Who’s not sure? I’m doing my job. I’m very sure.”
Nene has enjoyed statistically his best season in the NBA. He’s averaging a career-high 15 points per game, and his 7.4 rebounds per game is close to a career-high. He leads the NBA in field goal percentage and is making his first real run at an All-Star spot for the first time.
While the focus is on Anthony, who is expected to be traded, Nene waits in the wings. He is a patient man.
“I don’t even think about that,” Nene said. “The only people who think about that is my agent and management of the Nuggets. Definitely they’ve been talking. For sure I know my agent is going to do the best he can do for me. I leave it first in God’s hands and second in his hands.”
Chris Dempsey: Twitter: @dempseypost or firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, for a guy who's averaging 15 and 7 and leading the league in FG%, this is at least something Nuggets fans can hold onto. Nene has gone from softy (still, according to many) to playing the best ball of his career. While everyone knows that he plans to retire before too much longer to pursue his religious aims in his home country, he can still be an effective force for the Nuggets as they retool.
I hope the Nuggets FO finds a way to keep Nene and have him stick around for as long as he wants to play ball. He's been solid except for a few seasons totally out of his control and for all the claims of softness (full disclosure: including from me) he has been a force and one of the major factors in the Nuggets playing as well as they have over the last 7 seasons.