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Nuggets expected to complete Nene deal Thursday

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.

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.