Nuggets expected to complete Nene deal Thursday

Updated: July 19, 2006, 9:25 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets and the agent for power forward Nene are putting the finishing touches on a six-year, $60 million contract extension that is expected to be completed Thursday.

Nene
Nene

The Nuggets and agent Dan Fegan agreed to a deal earlier this month when Nene was on his honeymoon in his native Brazil.

The burly center, who will spend the summer rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee, will not be on Brazil's roster for the World Championships.

"I'm not well enough to train and play yet," Nene said. "My rehabilitation is going well, but I need to be careful. I'm doing nothing on court yet and I would not be able to reach a reasonable level to compete in one month."

Nene's contract was the second part of owner Stan Kroenke's $140 million commitment on the first weekend of free agency. He also agreed to a five-year, $80 million extension with Carmelo Anthony.

Thursday also could prove pivotal for the Nuggets on two other fronts:

• They are expected to acquire shooting guard J.R. Smith, who was scheduled to take his physical Wednesday at Chicago, completing his trade from the New Orleans Hornets to the Bulls.

• They also must decide whether to match San Antonio's two-year, $6 million offer sheet to restricted free agent center Francisco Elson.

Nuggets director of player personnel Mark Warkentien said the Nuggets would decide at the last hour what to do about Elson, who was a workhorse for Denver last season when the team was beset by injuries to its frontcourt.

Although NBA rules prohibit teams from discussing possible trades, it's believed the Nuggets would send two 2007 second-round draft picks and Howard Eisley to the Bulls for Smith, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard who is entering his third season in the NBA. Eisley would then be cut by Chicago.

Smith, 20, would be a bargain for the Nuggets, providing them with a the shooter they desire at the relatively low price of $1.4 million next season. Smith also has an option of $2.1 million for 2007-08.

Smith and Hornets coach Byron Scott feuded last season, when Smith's minutes and production diminished. He averaged 7.7 points after averaging 10.3 as a rookie in 2004-05, when he was named the Western Conference's rookie of the month three straight times.

Nene, who has career averages of 10.7 points and 6.2 rebounds, played just three minutes last season before blowing out his right knee on opening night. He is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He also missed 27 games in 2004-05 due to injuries, but the restricted free agent was one of the most prized players on the market because of his youth -- he's only 23 -- and rare mix of brawn and athleticism for a man who packs 260 pounds on a 6-foot-11 frame.

Information from the Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.