You might not have noticed today that Drew Gooden of the Cavaliers finally inked the 3 year/23 Million dollar contract that he agreed to last month. It made the news on August 11th that he had agreed in principal to the contract. Four days later, Chris Wilcox agreed to, and shortly thereafter signed his 3 year/24 Million dollar deal with the Sonics. Gooden and Wilcox are comparable players, and the market bore comparable deals. The Gooden deal was a good thing for Seattle in its negotiations with Wilcox because earlier in the free agent season, many thought Denver blew apart the salary structure for free agent Power Forwards by giving Nene a ridiculous 6 year/60 Million dollar deal. Many here on SC.com were dumbfounded when Neneâ€™s deal was announced. First and foremost Nene missed all of last season with a major knee injury, which may or may not allow him to be at full speed this season. Secondly, itâ€™s not like Nene is an all star or anything. Heâ€™s a decent, serviceable PF whose best season was 03-04 when he averaged 11.8 pts/6.5 rebs in 32mpg. He has career numbers of 10.7 pts/6.2 rebs. The third reason this signing was a head scratcher is that Denver already has Kenyon Martin under contract at the PF spot to the tune of 71 million dollars over the next 5 years if he exercises his player option for the 2010-11 season.
So the bloated Nene contract seems like madness to me in light of Denverâ€™s contractual obligation to K-mart. To make matters worse, Denver recently signed Reggie Evans to a 5 year contract reported to be around 22 million; and finally, earlier this summer, Denver traded Ruben Patterson to Milwaukee for veteran PF Joe Smith, who is in the last year of his contract, and will be paid 6.8 Million for this season.
Denverâ€™s Power Forward stable looks like this:
Player $06/07 $07/08 $08/09 $09/10 $10/11 $11/12
K. Martin 12,068,18 13,250,000 14,431,818 15,613,636 16,545,455option
Nene 7,920,792 8,752,475 9,584,158 10,415,842 11,247,525 12,079,208
R. Evans 3,965,500 4,282,759 4,600,000 4,917,241 5,234,483
Joe Smith 6,807,000
As you can see, the Nuggets will be paying 33 Million to Power Forwards in the 2010-11 season barring trades. I just donâ€™t think any of these guys are â€œgame changersâ€, and I donâ€™t see the wisdom of the signings. None of them can play the SF position, and wouldnâ€™t anyway because of Carmelo Anthony. Did I mention that Marcus Camby still has 41 Million over the next 4 years owed to him by Denver as the Center of record? Perhaps Nene could man the middle a bit if Camby goes down, but I donâ€™t see him being really effective for big minutes at the Center spot.
In the final analysis, I am happy with the reasonable contract that Wilcox signed last month. Nick Collison will be looking to extend soon seeing that he is in the last year of his contract. Nick is a perfect compliment to Wilcox, because they do different things, and it seems likely that it wonâ€™t break the bank to sign him to a contract along the lines of Reggieâ€™s deal. If and when that happens, the PF position will be set for the next few years, without the albatross contracts dished out this season to big men (see Denver and Chicago with the Ben Wallace signing); leaving us in a good spot financially. This to me is just good financial sense. I donâ€™t see it as being cheap, like the Supes have been accused of by many. Granted, I see Ben Wallace as a game changer, but he is 32 years old, and his game is predicated on his incredible leaping and athleticism. It canâ€™t last forever. Chicago is swinging for the fence.
I just donâ€™t see Nene and Reggie being the Missing pieces that send Denver deep into the playoffs; at least not enough to justify the huge contracts.