If it is going to be about money, then the next four years will be about whether Nene is worth $2 million more than JaVale McGee per season. Did the Wizards make the right decision in choosing the older and more expensive of the two?
McGee, who was traded to Denver in March in a deal that brought Nene to Washington, will reportedly earn $44 million over the next four years after he re-signed with the Nuggets on Wednesday. Nene's current contract, given to him by Denver, runs the same length as McGee's but for $13 million a season.
Nene will turn 30 next month. McGee is just 24.
Nene has been to the playoffs in all but two of his 10 NBA seasons. McGee has been once, last year. He played well in two of Denver's three first-round wins against the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 18.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in those two games. In the Nuggets' four losses, he averaged 5.3 points and 8.3 rebounds.
Nene put up 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 11 games for the Wizards, more scoring and nearly equal rebounding to McGee's last two seasons in Washington. Yes, both players' sample sizes might be too small for grand conclusions.
But even though McGee appeared, somewhat, to mature for the Nuggets, Nene helped reshape the Wizards' low-post presence and locker room. His experience and professionalism are more than worth the sacrifice of occasional production over the running joke (literally, at times) that McGee had become in D.C. That difference can't be explained by measuring salaries alone.
- Craig Stouffer