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Monday, December 19, 2011
Updated: December 20, 3:42 AM ET
Sources: Arron Afflalo returns to Denver

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

The Denver Nuggets are close to finalizing a deal to re-sign restricted free agent Arron Afflalo, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that the sides have reached terms on a deal that, with bonuses, would pay out in excess of $43 million over five years to Afflalo, who was coveted by numerous top teams that generally presumed that the Nuggets would match any offer sheet to the 26-year-old.

The deal with Afflalo ensures that the Nuggets have retained their top two free agents. Last week, Denver and center Nene Hilario -- widely regarded as the top available free agent -- reached terms on a five-year, $67 million deal.

The Nuggets also acquired swingmen Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer in a trade with Dallas last week as they continue to re-shape their roster in the wake of last February's deal sending Carmelo Anthony to New York.

ESPN.com reported earlier this month that the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers were among the playoff teams trying unsuccessfully to engage the Nuggets in sign-and-trade discussions.

Rival bidders have long been pessimistic about their chances of stealing Afflalo away from the Nuggets. After restricted free agent Wilson Chandler and unrestricted free agents Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith all bolted to China, Afflalo's future was the rare roster issue in Denver that the home team has control of.

Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson are generally regarded as the most valued players, along with Nene, in the Nuggets' post-Anthony world.

Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.