Financial adviser, and former NCAA basketball player, Bret Bearup is known to be close to the goings on in Denver. He has been reported to be one of the few people who truly has the ear of Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, for instance.
I e-mailed Bearup to ask why the Nuggets had seen fit to spend $60 million over six years for the young, Brazilian, bench-warming, post-ACL-surgery, power forward Nene. The knee-jerk reaction, at least in the blogosphere, (Deadspin and YAYsports! for instance) had been that this was too much contract for this player. Here is Bearup's response:
The Nuggets had 75% of the teams in the NBA call with interest in a sign and trade for Nene. Now, realize they know Dan Fegan is his agent, and has a rep for getting his people top dollar. I have no doubt the Nuggets would have been faced with either a $70+ million sign and trade, or Chicago or Atlanta miss out on their first target and Denver would be forced to match a larger number, or he would have played for the tender and Denver would lose him. The Nuggets intend to sign him July 12th and have announced such, but are STILL getting phone calls from teams wanting to sign and trade for him, even though Fegan would get another $10 million for Nene in that kind of deal.
The deal was 6 years and 60 million, but a significant portion of that is deferred, such that the true cost to the Nuggets will be millions less. In addition, there are further "stretch" provisions that will lessen the burden if he doesn't hit certain games played and minutes targets. This was a "Troy Murphy" deal, not an "Erick Dampier" deal (both are Fegan clients... Murphy got $58 million two years ago, Dampier got $70 million).
The average starting big men (4s and 5s) in the NBA make $7.3 million. Nene starts very close to that.... and there are indications he'll be above average. He's huge (6-11, 265) quick, and athletic. He was Denver's best player in training camp last year before going down in the first game... he was really coming on. And he's only 23.
Given the uncertainty of Kenyon Martin, and the injury history of Marcus Camby, the Nuggets could not afford to let Nene slip away. Further, signing Nene takes a talented "big" off the market. In this game of supply and demand, talented "bigs" are in short supply, and this will only serve to stimulate interest in Martin in the marketplace. Given the calls the Nuggets have received today, it already has.