Goodbye Denver, Miami among suitors lined up for Nene

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Nene is the biggest and best free agent on the market. Unless your team doesn’t need a legit 7-foot big man who plays smart, can defend the paint, rebound well, plus has a deft offensive touch around the rim and from the midrange.

Denver can use one of those but after nine years in the Rockies Nene wants out, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com. Nene did not feel appreciated by the organization last year.

The Nuggets are operating under the firm belief that Nene will test the market as an unrestricted free agent, according to a person familiar with the team’s thinking. Six teams have registered interest, the source said: Golden State, New Jersey, Indiana, Miami, Dallas and Houston.

This is where it gets interesting. And it all comes down to money — Nene can get $17.4 million if he goes to Indiana, and both the Nets and Rockets could make small moves to get to offer that much. Those are three teams that are building and see Nene as a key part of that future.

Nene has said he would like to land in Miami, but to go there would mean a pay cut and a sign-and-trade that Denver does not love, reports Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

They will go after top free agent centers like Nene as is Pat Riley’s custom, and perhaps offer Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem in a sign-and-trade with the Nuggets, who have Nene’s rights. They offered this deal, in fact, to the Nuggets last year. But unless Nene is willing to take a massive pay cut to play for the Heat, this is a pipe dream

Dallas is also a team that Nene likes and also is a pipe dream — Dallas wants him but more likely as a backup plan if they cannot re-sign Tyson Chandler.

Golden State could offer near max money if they amnesty David Lee or Andris Biedrins. The Warriors have a fantastic backcourt with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, Nene would help balance that roster tremendously. But does he want to trust his future to a new ownership group and an unproven coach in Mark Jackson?

When asked, Nene will tell you it’s not about the money, it’s about fit and the chance to win. He’ll have the chance to prove it — he could go to Miami for a lot less money and they become instant favorites for the title (Vegas says they already are). But the smart bet is that he takes the money. All while saying it was not about the money.