With the Wizards having success going small in the playoffs — Paul Pierce was the four at key moments — Washington management decided to check the trade market for Nene this summer. Which was all good with many Wizards fans — in DC Nene became the scapegoat for last season, especially after an Al Horford putback cost them game five against the Hawks (Washington lost in six).
Turns out, there wasn’t much of a market.
CSNwashington.com reported earlier this offseason that Nene, who is entering the final year of a deal that pays him $13 million, didn’t draw any interest in the trade market and isn’t likely to be moved before the start of the 2015-16 season. If he is eventually moved with that expiring deal, that’s more likely to happen near the February trade deadline but if they allow his size to leave they’ll want size in return. Being injury-prone is a recurring issue, but the Wizards like him, and they’ll need him to get past the Chicago Bulls or Cleveland Cavaliers in the postseason.
J. Michael also sticks up for Nene against the heat he took in the nation’s capital. On that final play of Game 5, Michael notes Nene did leave Horford, but only because first Paul Pierce on the switch was beaten by Dennis Schroeder driving the lane, then when John Wall recovered and blocked the shot off the glass. After leaving Horford, Nene went over to body up Paul Millsap, who after setting the pick had beaten Pierce badly and was in great rebounding position. The real issue was that Pierce chased the ball then didn’t help the helper — Nene got Pierce’s man, Pierce needed to put a body on Horford. Didn’t happen. But if Nene had stuck right with his man then Millsap gets the tip for the win. The Wizard defense was not exactly on a string, the only guy who did what he was supposed to was Bradley Beal, who didn’t leave Kyle Kover.
Michael took a bigger picture view as well.
How quickly those forget that the culture in D.C. changed when the 7-foot Brazilian arrived in a trade with the Denver Nuggets and JaVale McGee and the circus that surrounded him was shipped away for good.
Nene was part of the much-needed culture change that has allowed Wall to flourish of late. Washington isn’t thinking conference finals without part of what Nene brought.
Think of it this way, a guy with more holes in his game in Rajon Rondo came into the league and landed in Boston, where veterans like Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and others taught him how to be a professional and play on the game’s biggest stages. Wall landed on a team with Gilbert Arenas, McGee, and Andray Blatche. Reverse those situations and how are those two point guards different?
All that said, expect to hear Nene’s name come up in a lot of trade rumors as we work our way into next season.