It had been assumed earlier in the season that Denver Nuggets center Nene would not opt out of the final year of his contract, but the Denver Post reported that Nene could, in fact, be leaning in that direction and become an unrestricted free agent.
Nene would be arguably the most coveted player on the market if that happens, and SI.com’s Zach Lowe mentioned the Pistons as a possible, albeit longshot, bidder:
Another possible fool’s gold case, as the Pistons could really only work their way down to about $48 million — and that’s if they decide to part with Rodney Stuckey, perhaps the most divisive restricted free agent set to hit the market. Things could change a bit if they could somehow unload Richard Hamilton and take back less salary in return. There could be fit and spacing issues with the Nene/Greg Monroe pairing, but the Pistons need size badly.
As Lowe noted, the Pistons have significant internal hurdles to pursue a free agent who would undoubtedly have a high asking price, but it’s also doubtful as to whether Nene would consider Detroit. He was a hot name at the trade deadline, notably pursued by Houston, a team that is much closer to contention than the Pistons. Oklahoma City was also rumored to be heavily interested at one time (and Nene was allegedly intrigued by the Thunder as well), but it’s unclear how the Thunder trading for and signing Kendrick Perkins impacts that interest.
There’s no doubt, though, that if the Pistons positioned themselves to bid on Nene, getting him would go a long way toward Joe Dumars regaining his status as one of the league’s top GMs.