The transactions keep flowing in the NBA. Nene signed a big contract with the Nuggets (more than $67 million, 5 years) that only looks small because many thought he might receive a $100 million offer. However, this still reminds me of the contracts that brought us NBA Lockout 2011 (which is also the name of a really boring video game about collective bargaining and corporate finance). We’re talking about a big man with past knee problems and a rebound rate around 15 over the last four years. Guys like Dwight Howard and Kevin Love are in the 20s.
I think Nene is a decent defender as well, but this contract is most likely a questionable decision in response to a bad situation. Three of the Nuggets rotation guys (Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, and Wilson Chandler) are stuck in China for most of the year! I had forgotten about this, and I bet they’re not the only team in that situation. The Nugs needed to sign some guys; they were able to acquire Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez, but that should excite no one. Signing Nene is probably the only way the Nuggets stay competitive this year with a weak free agent market, and the Nets et al. happily bid up the price. Comparing this deal to Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan’s questionable deals does not make it better. My buddy Tim (from Denver) thinks the Nuggets will overpay to resign Arron Afflalo next. Seems like the lockout didn’t change much — midlevel guys are still getting paid big money when there’s nothing else available and cap room to spare. I would advise Denver to try something totally different, such as my Seattle Scientists model.
Elsewhere around the NBA, John Hollinger thinks that the Lakers are no longer trying to win a championship (though of course you won’t be able to read the article, since none of us have ESPN Insider). This is classic alarmist journalism. Kobe Bryant would never settle for cost-cutting when he only has a couple competitive years left. In fact, the Lakers are still trying to trade for Chris Paul. Not sure how that would fit in with Hollinger’s theory. Lamar Odom has always been an inconsistent luxury for the Lakers, and he was disgruntled about being offered for Paul. I’m not too surprised they moved him to Dallas, even for chump change. Later on, I’ll tackle a bigger Hollinger fish — PER.
On an unrelated note, is there any sport where luck matters more than hockey? My Red Wings traveled to Pittsburgh for a showdown between two of the NHL’s top teams last night. Crosby was out again because of concussion symptoms, but Evgeni Malkin played out of his mind to pick up the slack. He nailed the post three times, but only one went in the net, and the Red Wings got a late counterattacking goal and an empty netter to win 4-1. It’s no wonder that the eight seed has won 28% of first round series (9 out of 32) since the current NHL playoff format was adopted in 1994. Only 3 eight seeds have advanced in the NBA, including the Knicks in the lockout-shortened 1999 season.