To trade someone so quickly after committing to them for so long is very rare, especially when you’ve owned the incumbent player for a full decade beforehand. But it does happen. In light of trading him Washington yesterday, a mere three months after re-signing him to a 5-year $65 million contract, Denver are being accused of demonstrating buyer’s remorse over Nene.
But this is not strictly true.
Sam Amick reports that Denver began working on trading Nene almost immediately after re-signing him. He is unmistakably right, and it took only three months to go from the planning stage to completion. However, looking to trade Nene immediately is not, in itself, evidence of buyer’s remorse. That is evidence of something else.
That, if anything, is reselling, pawnbrokering, wheeler-dealing, merchanting. That is buying purely with intent to sell later on. That is either asset management or borderline deception, depending on your opinion. Whatever it is, it is not remorseful.
It was deliberate from the start.
Denver knew something we didn’t, something they never told us. They never wanted to re-sign Nene in the first place. Nene was re-signed for five years and $65 million because that was the cost of re-signing Nene, and not because Denver thought he was worth it. Denver had a choice — either lose Nene for nothing, or overpay him significantly. Even knowing that they would rather give minutes to Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov, young bigs with potential, they chose the latter, re-signed Nene for big bucks, and then spend half the year playing him out of position. An overpaid asset is a better asset than no asset at all, and for as long as Nene’s perceived value (scorching hot after the summer courtship) outweighed his actual value, Denver intended to cash in. They did just that.
With this in mind, the trade starts to look a little different.
Regardless of any individual opinion with regards to the returned player, Javale McGee, Denver just got a productive, athletic, young big and emphatic salary relief in exchange for their non-All-Star highest-paid player whom they did not even want. “Buyer’s remorse” is not as fair of a representation of the saga as might be “buyer’s consolidation.” Denver didn’t regret re-signing Nene, as they did it specifically to deal him. A delayed sign-and-trade, if you will. And they’ve been able to complete it far soon than perhaps they expected.