Three days into the Denver Nuggets' truncated 2011 training camp, there's still no Nene Hilario, no Arron Afflalo and questions about what "Plan B" might be.
Our Denver Nuggets may be at the mercy of the NBA free agency trade winds, as our top two free agent priorities - Nene Hilario and Arron Afflalo - are second priorities for the other teams rumored to want their services.
In regards to Nene, the latest rumors had the New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers seeking #31's services. But with the Pacers signing former New Orleans Hornet David West to a two-year, $20 million deal, you have to figure the Pacers are out of the Nene sweepstakes. The Rockets have cap room to sign Nene, as well, but they've made an offer to the Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol (which will be matched by the Grizzlies), as well. And with the Nets in hot pursuit of Dwight Howard, anything between the Nets and Nene may have to wait until Howard's fate is determined.
Which makes one wonder: at what point does Nene start feeling "disrespected" by all these other franchises who are ostensibly making him a secondary priority, while the Nuggets have offered him a substantial five-year deal (a season longer than any other team can offer) that's just sitting on the table? Moreover, all of Nene's talk about playing for a contender hardly holds water when he's flirting with the Nets, Rockets and Pacers. (Granted, should the Nets get Howard to join Deron Williams and sign Nene, they'd be an instant contender in the Eastern Conference. But the Rockets and Pacers aren't contending for anything anytime soon.) In fact, the longer things take to shake out for Howard - who could still end up being a Los Angeles Laker - the better the chances might be that the Nuggets re-sign Nene.
As far as Afflalo's fate is concerned, we've heard nothing in days. Grantland's Bill Simmons claims it's going to take $50 million over just four years to re-sign Afflalo, a high price to pay for a guy who averages just over 12 points per game. But for whatever reason, Afflalo's name hasn't been mentioned in the latest free agent buzz and, at the end of the day, the Nuggets can match any Afflalo offer (as Afflalo is a restricted free agent). And why are the Pacers - as Simmons suggests - the best bet to overpay for Afflalo? Exactly how does overpaying Afflalo get the Pacers out of their perpetual state of mediocrity? It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me.
None of this, of course, helps the Nuggets current situation of having to fill out a training camp roster. Over the weekend the Nuggets took a shot at signing Milwaukee Bucks restricted free agent forward Luc Mbah a Moute, only to have the Bucks match the offer. And NBA.com's David Aldridge is reporting that the Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers could be talking about sending Marreese Speights to Denver. That's hardly a "Plan B" to get excited about. I guess when Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri pledged on numerous radio shows last week that the Nuggets weren't "going to do anything crazy" in free agency, he wasn't kidding.
And nor should they.
Now is not the time to grossly overpay for solid starting players nor hamstring the Nuggets' future just to compete in a squirrely 66-game season. But that doesn't change the fact that the Nuggets' roster remains murky with a regular season tipoff just weeks away.
On to the links...
Houston Rockets offer Marc Gasol four-year, $55 million deal - Sam Amick - SI.com
In this article, Amick reports that the Nuggets have offered Nene a five-year, $60 million contract while the Nets have offered four years, $60 million. But could the Nets' offer be held up pending the fate of Dwight Howard?
Billups warns teams not to claim him off waivers - NBA - Yahoo! Sports
An angry Chauncey Billups would rather retire than get picked up off the amnesty waiver wire, where he can't control his destiny.
Nuggets' Harrington could be a candidate to be an "amnesty" cut - The Denver Post
Harrington could either be "amnestied" or suddenly become the Nuggets veteran leader. He comments on both possible scenarios.
Bill Simmons breaks down the 2-guard spot - Grantland
Day 3: Is Arron Afflalo really worth $50 million?
Sixers, Nuggets discussing Marreese Speights; West to Boston dead " NBA.com | Hang Time Blog
David Aldridge reports that the Nuggets are interested in Speights.
Karl, Nuggets have big plans for Mozgov - The Denver Post
Benjamin Hochman writes a great piece on Mozgov, whom everyone in Denver has high hopes for.
George Karl's nightmare: No Nene, Afflalo on Nuggets' roster - The Denver Post
Coach Karl certainly doesn't appreciate the Nuggets current roster uncertainty.