Rockets Rumors: Nene Declines $3.8M Contract Option to Become a Free Agent

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2019

Houston Rockets' Nene plays against the Minnesota Timberwolves in an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Nene will become a free agent after turning down his $3.8 million player option with the Houston Rockets for the 2019-20 season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Brazilian big man averaged 3.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 42 appearances with Houston this past season.

Yahoo Sports' Keith Smith speculated a return to the Rockets could be on the table:

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

This one is a bit of a surprise. Wouldn't be shocked if he comes back to the Rockets on a vet minimum deal. Huge tax savings for Houston, but not all that big of a difference in salary for Nene. https://t.co/naEDiuS3Uc

The Athletic's Alykhan Bijani reported retirement could be a possibility as well:

Alykhan Bijani @Rockets_Insider

No one understands Nene better than @KellyIkoNBA. This was from after Game 6. I recently heard the same. Earlier this week, team sources indicated that it was likely Nene was heading towards retirement. https://t.co/b8zEoukYRW

Nene's days as a regular starter ended a few years ago. He hasn't made more than 11 starts in a season since 2014-15, and his age prevents him from getting a significant role in a team's frontcourt rotation.

The 36-year-old shot 51.7 percent from the field and continues to be an effective defender close to the basket. According to NBA.com, opponents shot 50.9 percent inside six feet and 51.1 feet inside 10 feet when matched up against Nene.

Assuming he wanted to prolong his NBA career for at least another season, Nene would almost certainly have interest throughout the league, especially on teams with limited salary-cap space and playoff aspirations.

He'd be smart to wait until the biggest free-agent dominoes fall this offseason before deciding on his next move.