During majority of the regular season, Washington Wizards head coach Randy Wittman elected to play Marcin Gortat and Nene together, totally disregarding the prevalence of small-ball in the Association today.
Although the Gortat and Nene pairing proved to be effective during the regular season, Wittman decided to go for a stylistic change during the postseason that slotted Paul Pierce at the four, a move that proved to be fruitful. Washington played some of their best ball during the playoffs with Pierce at power forward, and although Pierce’s chances of returning to D.C. are viewed as 50/50, his strong play as the four-man brought the Wizards to the revelation that a stretch-four is a necessary addition to their roster for next season.
So where does that leave Nene? According to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, it makes him a trade bait. The problem for Washington is that no one is biting.
The Wizards, CSNwashington.com has confirmed through two persons with knowledge of the situation, aren’t expected to move him during the offseason because there isn’t serious interest in the 13-year power forward who averaged 11 points and 5.1 rebounds. If Nene is eventually moved, it’ll likely occur closer to the trade deadline in February when most of his salary has been picked up by his current team and maybe a contender in need of a big man on an expiring deal could come calling.
After falling to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Wittman stated that he plans to play Nene more at the five next season, which relegated the 12-year vet to a role as Gortat’s backup and as Washington’s defensive anchor against smaller lineups in crunch-time during the playoffs. If Nene does happen to stick around, I’d imagine we’d see something similar to that next season.
Nene averaged 11 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season for the Wizards. His inability to play a full season (he’s played 61, 53 and 67 games respectively in his last three seasons in Washington) and contract size ($13 million) may scare some teams off, but he’s still a bullish big man who can do a handful of great things for a team. Currently it appears as if teams don’t share that sentiment, but things change very quickly during the NBA’s free agency period. The thin trade market for Nene could be one of them.