OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 27: Nene Hilario #31 of the Denver Nuggets looks to shoot the ball against Nick Collison #4 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2011 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Update: Source tells Ken Berger the Rockets "have no plans" to amnesty Terrence Williams.
Update 2: See bottom of the post.
Thing is, the Denver Nuggets have represented a major roadblock in Houston's pursuit. The Nuggets are currently screwed due to a number of quick overseas decisions made by a few key players, and now face a season without Wilson Chandler or Kenyon Martin. As such, many expected the Nuggets to toss buckets of money in Nene's direction and perhaps slot him at the four next to Chris Andersen to make up for size deficiencies.
Throw a wrench in that plan, Denver. CBS Sports' Ken Berger says Nene wants out of Denver and that six teams have gauged interest, Houston included.
Later in the article, Berger discussed Houston's chances:
... For the Nuggets, the most advantageous scenario would be if Nene wanted to be in Miami, Dallas or Houston enough to be willing to accept less money to get there...
... The Nets would have room sign Nene to a max deal starting at 30 percent of the cap -- $17.4 million -- if they used amnesty on Travis Outlaw. The Pacers have enough room regardless, while the Rockets are close. They would either do a sign-and-trade or use amnesty on Terrence Williams and clear the rest through separate deals to clear room for an outright signing.
Sounds like there are a few more things standing in the Rockets' way:
1) The Pacers are thought to be the prime candidate and have more money available, which is odd considering Roy Hibbert has developed nicely. Perhaps they'd pair the two in the same frontcourt. That's a scary thought.
2) Nene is a max player. Think about that. Nene Hilario, a very good, yet not amazing center... could possibly be a max player. That would make him the highest-paid player on Houston's roster. He'd be the centerpiece. Do the Rockets want to take that route?
3) Is it worth amnestying Terrence Williams in order to chase Nene? In a word: yes. Let's not get caught up in the T-Will hype if Houston is legitimately dedicated to bringing in Nene. Williams has potential, but he's in a crowd of young players and isn't a vital piece of this team just yet.
I like Nene. He's an uber-efficient player on offense, a good rebounder, a decent defender and he's done his work in an offense as fast-break-driven and perimeter-oriented as any. In a different system, Nene's size and physicality could perhaps translate to better defensive numbers. He's a monster, folks.
Of course, we return to the question: Is breaking the bank for Nene the right decision for this team, at this time? Would he help, delay or hamper Houston's return to prominence? Oddly, for how good a player Nene is, signing him would certainly be a gamble on many fronts.
Interesting Thought: Kelly Dwyer on Nene.
And the hype around Nene? He's probably the best free agent available, and we respect the heck out of his game. But if mostly-rebuilding teams full of 24-year olds are pinning their hopes on signing a 29-year old center? One that will be limping around the court by the time the kids hit their prime? Well, this is why we had a lockout in the first place.