Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

Denver’s other big problem: Nene


Beyond the ongoing, never-ending, painfully unresolved saga of Carmelo Anthony lies the dread and doom of another situation. If you check Denver’s books, you’ll notice that Nene has an ETO (Early Termination Option) for 2011, meaning he can jump ship and enter free agency should he elect to do so. Nene loves Denver and wants to return, but he’s getting a little fed up with this whole, bizarre, distracting  Anthony situation, according to CBSSports.com:

Nene, arguably Denver’s second-best player, has made a list of three teams he’s interested in signing with or being traded to — and not surprisingly, one of them is Miami, where his fierce interior presence would be the missing piece for the Heat.

… Thus far, Denver’s stance has been to deal with Anthony first, but sources say the Nuggets are running out of time to get Nene to agree to an extension. And if Anthony and Chauncey Billups are traded in a clear step toward rebuilding, there is little doubt Nene will push for a trade.

… Nene hasn’t voiced any desire to be dealt yet, but sources say recently he has been among the most outspoken Nuggets in his anger about the distractions Anthony’s situation has caused.

via Post-Ups: Nene impatient with Nuggets’ focus on Melo – NBA – CBSSports.com Basketball.

This further confirms what we already thought: if the Nuggets have to trade Carmelo Anthony, the odds of a full-blown detonation increase dramatically. Losing Nene would crush the Nuggets inside.

Meanwhile, Nene’s value on the open market would be sky high. Miami being an option is scary enough, providing Chris Bosh with a backbone to so he can hit jumpers all day long, but there are other contenders who would get a lot out of Nene. The Knicks also come to mind, immediately. Nene has played in a high-pace system in Denver for the last several years, so he’s familiar with the run and gun style. Giving Stoudemire a legit force down low would create a twin towers system which would be a game changer for the Knicks.

Even teams like Boston, with Kendrick Perkins (should, for some unforeseen reason they elect not to re-sign him, which they will) and conceivably Shaquille O’Neal coming off the books could be interested. In short, should Nene elect to leave home, he’s going to have his choice of options. But Denver needs to do everything possible to get him locked back into a contract.

If they can ever get the Melo thing resolved, that is.


Report: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer urged Danny Ferry to resign

Danny Ferry, Mike Budenholzer
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When Danny Ferry’s racism scandal came to light, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer publicly supported his general manager. Budenholzer called the “African” remarks about Luol Deng “very much out of character” and said Ferry was trying to learn from his mistakes.

And while Budenholzer might not have done anything privately to contradict his public statements, his tone apparently differed with Ferry and then-owner Bruce Levenson last fall.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Budenholzer very much owed his job to Ferry. His former Spurs colleague had pleaded with Levenson that the Gregg Popovich assistant was the man for the position. Yet Budenholzer felt Ferry should resign, lest the Hawks be subsumed in disruption when training camp opened, and he made his wishes known in a heartfelt conversation with Ferry and Levenson at that time.

In some respect, Budenholzer was just doing his job as coaching – trying to maximize his teams chances of on-court success. Ferry didn’t resign. He took a leave of absence that lasted until he agreed to a buyout this summer. That was apparently enough to avoid a paralyzing distraction. The Hawks won 60 games and reached their first conference finals since moving to Atlanta.

Ferry’s departure also significantly benefitted Budenholzer personally. Budenholzer ran the Hawks’ front office during Ferry’s leave, and the new owners have installed him as the teams permanent president.

The only other four active coaches with personnel control experienced much more success before getting the dual president/coach title.

Gregg Popovich coached the Spurs to four championships and 11 playoff berths before they named him president in 2008. Doc Rivers won Coach of the Year with the Magic and then guided the Celtics to a title during his 14 seasons before the Clippers plucked him to run their franchise. Stan Van Gundy steered the Heat and Magic to the playoffs in all seven of his full seasons, including a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals with Orlando, before getting hired by the Pistons. Flip Saunders won more games than every other Timberwolves coach combined, is responsible for every playoff win in franchise history and made four trips to the conference finals (including thrice with the Pistons) over 16 total seasons before Minnesota gave him the huge role.

Budenholzer has been a head coach just two seasons, including a 38-44 debut year. He has done a good job, winning Coach of the Year last season, and he might make a good team president.

But he lacks the track record most coaches need to gain such status. Budenholzer, more than anything, was at the right place at the right time.

Report: Rockets will try to sign Alessandro Gentile next summer

Alessandro Gentile, Paulius Jankunas
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The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.

So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.

If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.