Excuse my pun in the headline, but it would indeed be hilarious to offer Nene a max or even near-max contract.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, "it could take more than $13 million annually to sign Nene."
Don't get me wrong, any team would love to have Nene anchoring the frontcourt, but he is in no way worthy of a max contract.
Nene's career averages are 12.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. Solid, yes, but those are not numbers on par with the likes of Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin or any other elite-level big man.
Some may say he is slightly better than those available players, but is he that much better?
Samuel Dalembert—arguably the low man on the big-man free-agent totem-pole—averages 8.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. He is 30 years old, and coincidentally has the same exact measurables as Nene (6'11'', 250 lbs).
Signing Dalembert at a fraction of the cost would make a tremendous amount of sense because he brings similar numbers to the table: adequate scoring and solid rebounding. As far as defensive purposes go, he averages a full block more per game.
Is Nene worth a max contract?
Of all of the teams to potentially land Nene, the Nets would be making a colossal mistake by shelling out the required funds. However, it has been reported that they are in fact the front-runners, as it is clear they will be trying to sign a marquee player to keep Deron Williams with the team past this season.
Newsflash: Dwight Howard is a marquee big man, Nene is a solid complement for a contending team.
The Nets are in a good position financially, but would the trio of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Nene really cause opposing head coaches to lose sleep with the Nets on the upcoming schedule?
Lopez can score and Nene can rebound—combine them and you would have a good player.
That team would be lucky to make the playoffs, and then goodbye, Deron, and what you'd have left is a lot less money and a very bad team.