The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson is reporting that the Heat will pursue Nene Hilario once the lockout is over. What the Heat lack in money - they will surely try to make up for with the chance of winning it all. Would the Nuggets big man be open to playing center for one of the most hated teams in professional sports?
Here is a tidbit from Jackson's column,
It’s difficult to see Nene accepting a mid-level exception from Miami if there is a $6 million one in the new labor deal, but he told us previously that Miami is appealing to him.
Read more here.
There is no question that players would, at least, be open to entertaining offers from the Heat. After all, the first year for the super team ended surprisingly well, with a trip to the NBA finals. It's not far-fetched to think that the Heat could dominate the Eastern Conference for years to come and adding a legitimate low post scorer to go along with the high powered trio already in place would be an ideal match.
Nuggets fans have had their issues with Nene throughout his career. Namely that he's not a terrific rebounder and that he doesn't always play with the tenacity that people would love to see out of him. Nene has averaged better than his 12.5 career points per game the last three seasons with totals of 14.6, 13.8 and 14.5 ppg. And he has produced better numbers on the boards as well. He averaged 7.0 rebounds per game for his career, but over the last three seasons he's posted 7.8, 7.6 and 7.6 rpg and has always been a pretty good low-post defender.
In Miami, I don't think Nene would be expected to improve on his rebounding numbers much as Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and even Dwyane Wade get after the boards. And on offense, Nene has been near the top of the league in field goal percentage (61% last season and 56% for his career) as he doesn't stray away from the basket too much. But even when he does settle for jumpers, he's added a pretty good shot to his arsenal as well.
But why choose Miami over Denver?
Some will point to the fact that Nene married a Colorado native. Other might suggest the money in Denver is too good to turn down. And you might also be able to point to Nene feeling some loyalty to a team that thought so much of him that they traded for him on draft day, back in 2002, when he was just a teenager from Brazil (not exactly a hot bed for NBA talent).
But Nene will be turning 29 years-old next week (Sept. 13th) and his time to chase an NBA title is starting to dwindle. There is no doubt that Nene is still in the prime of his career and a move to Miami would be very appealing over a re-tooling or re-building Nuggets squad that likely wont compete for it all for at least a couple seasons. Sure, Nene could probably sign a two or three year deal in Denver and give it one last shot before chasing a title in the twilight of his carrer, but why not go for it while you could still be a key cog for a team that will definitely be right in the thick of things out East.
Could Nene be a guy who could earn some additional money in endorsements to supplement his meager salary with the Heat? Big men like Nene don't have to play for anything close to $6 million per season ... depending on what happens with this lockout. We've already seen Nene turn down a deal reportedly worth $12.5 million per season (4 years and $50 million), so maybe he's being true to his word about this whole free agency thing being about more than money, like he told the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman.
So, the question for you Nuggets Nation is this: Should Nene sign for less money in Miami to chase a title (and take a lesser role) or should he stay in Denver and be the center of attention?
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