Yes, people, the NBA is back, and I can't believe it either!
On our way to a 66-game season, we cannot reach the start without passing through—yep, you said it—free agency.
Although this class of free agents measures nowhere close to last year's, there is still a good amount of talent, most notably the Denver Nuggets starting center, Nene Hilario.
Nene is clearly one of the most dominant centers in the NBA, and his value rises even more because of the scarcity of quality centers in the league today.
As the biggest name testing the market, countless rumors have been reported about him. Specifically, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported yesterday there are six teams in contention to sign Nene.
Here, we'll take a deeper look at the top candidates and look at the benefits and likelihood of the acquisition.
The Dallas Mavericks have a different free agent in the same predicament as Nene.
I can't say Nene would be a huge upgrade over the Mavs' Tyson Chandler, considering the season he had last year and how much he helped them win it all.
However, I do believe that Nene is better, and even if you disagree, I do not think you can argue that they would become worse.
If anything, I see improvement.
Having said that, the Mavericks have no room in their cap. Therefore, if Nene really wanted to go there, he would need to force a sign-and-trade.
If the Mavs lose Chandler, do not be surprised to see them quickly pursue Nene. Mark Cuban will do anything to get any player he wants.
Nene would help the team's only major flaw. If he ends up in Miami, then it would just be unfair, and many fans would lose respect for him.
However, Berger stated in his report that Miami is over the cap, and the chance of him landing there is slim, with the only possibility being a sign-and-trade, just like the Mavericks scenario.
There is no doubt that if he landed there, the Heat would be even closer to being invincible.
As a Sixers fan and an NBA fan in general, I really hope this does not happen.
With the departure of Yao Ming, the Rockets are short a reliable center, and Nene could definitely be the answer.
Finishing just above .500 and just outside the playoffs last season, the Rockets could be classified as a middle-of-the-pack team with a lot of potential. We saw Kyle Lowry break out toward the end of the season, and we know the damage Luis Scola and Kevin Martin can do.
All they need is another big man.
Many people do not realize how good the Rockets were last year, despite the fact that they missed the playoffs. In fact, they finished first in the league in assists, third in points and seventh in rebounds.
The addition of Nene could equal the margin the Rockets need to overcome to make the playoffs. He would add even more boards, and more importantly, provide better defense.
They might need to do some minor moves in advance, but I can definitely see the Rockets making a serious run for Nene.
The Pacers are a young, solid team and could use the veteran help from Nene.
Indiana already has its own 7'2", unique low-post presence in Roy Hibbert. Nene alongside him equals nasty.
Keep in mind, Hibbert is just 24 years old.
Starting with Danny Granger, I think the Pacers have a solid, upcoming core. Nene added to the mix would make them significantly better, as their lineup would be complete.
With the addition of Nene, they would be able to utilize Tyler Hansbrough coming off the bench, which I think would be a great ability to have.
The Pacers have plenty of room to sign him—five players off the books this year—it's now only a matter of pursuing and gaining his interest.
The Nets already have a very solid center in Brook Lopez, and the addition of Nene to the squad would make a dominant frontcourt.
Not to mention, they also have Deron Williams controlling the game.
The Nets have plenty of money to sign Nene considering they have six players who are unrestricted free agents this year, one most importantly being Kris Humphries.
Nene would do more than just fill that hole.
Their lineup would definitely be more complete, with their only major hole being the small forward spot—Sasha Vujacic is more than serviceable at the 2.
In order to sign Nene, they would need to use the amnesty clause on Travis Outlaw.
With the acquisition of Nene, New Jersey could make a serious run at making the playoffs, believe it or not.
It's been pretty obvious for a while that the Andris Biedrins experiment didn't workout.
The Warriors are nothing but pure offense—with no defense whatsoever.
Last season, they ranked seventh in the league in scoring and 27th in points allowed.
Nene would be the perfect defensive presence they need, especially down low, and they wouldn't miss a beat offensively.
Now, the only way Golden State would be able to acquire Nene is if it uses the new amnesty clause on Biedrins, which basically gets rid of his contract.
The new starting five would be as follows: Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, David Lee and Nene.
That's a great lineup to kick off the season.
A tag team of Nene and David Lee down low would be great, and there is definitely a possibility for it.
Nene clearly wants out of Denver, and now he has many options to weigh while testing the market.
Will he join the Big Three in Miami? The defending champions? Or a team on the rise like the Pacers?
Somebody else? Nobody knows.
Free agency is just that crazy.
For all we know, he might end up with a team that hasn't even expressed interest yet. It's that unpredictable. I love it.
He is a great player, no doubt, and has many options to choose from. Personally, I'd like to see him go to the Warriors, Pacers or Rockets.
Nene is the biggest name on the market and will probably be one of the first ones on the move, with the rest following his lead.