As if Rockets fans needed more fuel for the fire that is their hatred of David Stern, Nene joined Jonathan Feigen to discuss the possibility of signing with the Rockets the December after the Rockets traded for Pau Gasol. The conversation is painful to read.
Though he falls short of admitting that he would have signed in Houston, he says everything but.
From Feigen's story:
"We had a great conversation," Nene said. "Kevin McHale is a legend. It was a privilege for me to sit down with him, have a little time with him. I like the city. I signed with Denver. I love Denver, but I still like this city. I have friends here."
Asked if he would have signed with the Rockets, Nene laughed and said: "I can't answer that. People think it."
Nene cited a variety of reasons for his fondness for Houston, not the least of which was a quality Houston has that few NBA cities can match; ample humidity.
"It's like Brazil," Nene said. "It's humid, like tropical. Nice. I like the players that play here. I love Denver. All my career is right there. Friends. Family. I'm in a good spot. I could have been in a better spot, but I'm in a good spot right now."
I don't want to belabor the point because I'm the first to admit that we in Houston are perhaps a little too quick to whine about a perceived slighting from the league office, but this is extraordinarily frustrating to see. The presumption was always that the Rockets would sign Nene after the trade went through, but this article all but confirms those expectations.
After suffering through years of looking for a dominant big man in the front court to succeed Yao, the Rockets were about to land two of them in one night. On top of that, not only would they acquire Nene and Gasol, they would likely retain Chuck Hayes and Jeremy Lin, building perhaps the strongest team the Rockets had fielded since the 90's.
With Kevin Martin and Luis Scola suffering through their weakest seasons in recent memory, the Rockets are wading through a nice stretch of mediocrity right now that seemingly lacks an endgame. With the vetoed trade, the Rockets would have traded them at the peak of their value, a Daryl Morey specialty.
So yes, this has devolved into yet another rant about "the veto," but seeing the wide open Western Conference just makes "the veto" all the more miserable to remember.
Nene and Gasol would have been expensive, but as a duo they would be too intriguing to pass up.