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Another Unhappy Nugget

These are the things that happen when a team trades a Defensive Player of the Year for cap space and a few basketballs.  Players get annoyed.

As reported Sunday by the Denver Post's Chris Dempsey:

Count Nene among those who were steamed when the Nuggets traded Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers. The irony is that the trade of Nene's best friend on the team has also been a reason for the Brazilian to smile. It was, in large part, a giant leap of faith in him.

"I'm gonna be honest, I was very angry during that time," he said. "First of all, he's like my brother. He helped me a lot."

Economics drove the decision to move Camby. The team removed $10 million from its payroll, which was important for owner Stan Kroenke, who, according to the NBA, cut the league a luxury tax check of roughly $13.5 million for last season's payroll, which was $81 million.

Aside from money, the choice to make Nene the featured player in the middle was the unspoken part of the Camby trade. The Nuggets are relying on Nene as their center for now and the future. Within the organization there is a belief Nene is an all-star talent, if he can stay healthy and refine his game.

Melo Anthony came out last week and made his frustration with the Camby deal known, and it's not surprising to see others on this team following suit.

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Annoyance with the Camby deal aside, it should be interesting to see how Nene fares as the Nuggets' man in the pivot.  It's hard to believe he has been in the league six years already, though he has played only 293 games over that time, thanks in large part to injuries and a battle with testicular cancer.

The Nugs moved another injury-prone player - Antonio McDyess - to the Knicks on draft night in 2002 to get Nene, and they are still waiting to see some bigger dividends of that move.  But the big man is just 26 years old, and he is expected to enter this season at full health.  While he won't be quite the weak-side shot-blocking presence that Camby was, he may be able to make himself more of a scoring threat and a tough individual defender on the blocks.  Should be an interesting experiment, but given his history, the Nuggets may want to have some insurance at center that goes beyond Chris Andersen.