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Houston Rockets: Nene to decline player option and become free agent

Nene Hilario (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Nene Hilario (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets center Nene will decline his player option and test the waters as a free agent on the open markets.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnaroski, Rockets center Nene will decline his player option and test the free agent market.

Another quality big on the market: Houston center Nene is declining his $3.8M option and will become a free agent, league sources tell ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2019

Nene signed a 3-year deal worth just under $11 million with Houston back in 2017. He would’ve made $3.8 million in the 2019-20 season, the last year of his deal. Back in May, Nene told ESPN Brazil that he was contemplating retirement after the season, via Clutch Points. Obviously, the big man isn’t ready to step away from the game just yet.

Nene will be 37 by the time next season rolls around, and the big man has appeared in just 94 games over the last two seasons. Health has certainly been a factor for Nene in recent seasons, and it’s hard to imagine that changing as he gets up in age.

Last season, Nene averaged just 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13 minutes per game, all career lows. Despite his limited production, the Rockets out scored their opponents by 9.2 points per 100 possessions in Nene’s 546 minutes on the floor last season, so he can still get it done.

Although, you have to wonder why Nene would prefer to test free agency instead of opting into the final year of his deal. Nene is unlikely to get anything more than the veteran’s minimum, worth about $2.4 million, from any other team. Maybe he could be looking for a multi-year deal for security, but it’s also unlikely the 36-year-old will get a two or three year deal with his injury history and limited availability.

If Nene signs elsewhere, the Rockets will still have Kenneth Faried to play back up at center, who averaged 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game last season. Of course, Clint Capela has gotten the bulk of the playing time at center in recent years, but the Rockets will have to trade Capela if they can pull off a sign-and-trade deal for Jimmy Butler.

It might get awkward if the Houston Rockets don’t get Jimmy Butler. Next

In that case, the Rockets will have to look for another center this summer.

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