According to various reports, the Nuggets and Nene have agreed to a new 5 year contract worth $65 million. This ensures that Nene, acquired by Denver on draft day after being selected by New York, will likely finish his career in the Mile High City.
Considering there were reports of New Jersey offering $70 million over 4 years, Denver did pretty well. Nene should not have been a max contract, but $13 million per year is fairly reasonable. Nene is probably worth slightly less, which means that this was a fair NBA contract.
Denver's next order of business will be to secure a deal with Arron Afflalo. There has been surprisingly little buzz around Afflalo, despite the general consensus that he is near the top of this year's free agent class. Denver was expected to match nearly any deal Afflalo would sign, but he has yet to come to an agreement with any other teams. At this point is it a near certainty that Afflalo will return to the Nuggets.
Retaining Nene was crucial for Denver to remain competitive. Without Nene and with Kenyon Martin in China (and a free agent as well), the Nuggets would have had a disconcerting lack of front court depth.
The Nuggets maintained a significant portion of last season's playoff team. Ty Lawson will return at point guard. Afflalo should be the starting shooting guard. Gallinari returns at the three spot and will be expected to take on a bigger role. The front court will be some combination of Nene, Chris Andersen, Kosta Koufos, and Timofy Mozgov. The Nuggets should have incredible depth on the bench with Andre Miller, Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried, and Al Harrington.
Wilson Chandler is stuck in China until March, and will be a restricted free agent upon his return. Chandler would likely sign a qualifying offer to play out the season and then have an opportunity to be an unrestricted free agent. Joining the team in March will provide added depth just as the team attempts a playoff run.
More intriguing than this season is what Denver could be in another year. The Nuggets are expected to use their amnesty waiver on Al Harrington next offseason. That should clear space for the team to make a max or near-max offer to a true star to lead the team. Denver is not a marquee destination for free agents who seek marketing dollars and glamor. However, if a star seeks a strong supporting cast and a legitimate chance at a championship, Denver could be an ideal destination. Denver could also pursue a star via trade.
The future is fascinating for the Nuggets. The front office managed to navigate the Carmelo saga, received a strong package of assets in return, and quickly retooled the team to be ready to compete. In a league where rebuilding efforts can take three to five years, the Nuggets front office could complete theirs in a year and half, potentially without ever missing the playoffs.