Houston Rockets: Nene should still like his contract despite a setback

Houston Rockets center Nene Hilario (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets center Nene Hilario (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets center Nene Hilario is back with the team on a two-year deal loaded with incentives. Despite a setback, he should still love his deal. Why?

The Houston Rockets‘ roster is shaping together as we’re down to just a mere few weeks before the start of training camp as well as the 2019-20 season.  There’s just so much to talk about in terms of what to expect out of this team and I think we’ll all be surprised in regard to how great things will work out between James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

There will be kinks but I think the Houston Rockets will be a slightly better team without Chris Paul but it doesn’t take away from the tremendous contributions that he made for this team during his two-season tenure with the team.  I’ll forever be grateful but I just wished that he had stayed healthy in the playoffs the season before the last.  This team was just one hamstring injury away from a trip to the NBA Finals.

But that’s old news and it’s time to forge forward with the guys that we have now.  Veteran forward Thabo Sefolosha was just signed today as well as Nene Hilario receiving a shiny, new deal after not exercising his $3.8 million original option — likely a request made by the Houston Rockets — in order for them to put together the trade that has brought Russ to H-Town.

His two-year, $20M deal loaded with incentives includes a $2.56M base for each season and up to $7.44M in incentives if he hits certain targets that have been set forth.

The payout of the bonus is based on the games Nene plays if the team wins 52 games or more.  If the 17-season veteran appears in at least 40 games — there would be a good chance of that as he appeared in 42 last season — and the team hits that 52-win plateau, then it will trigger the bonuses being paid out to him.

This recent signing triggered an audit by the NBA’s Board of Governors and they’ve ruled that the $10M per season — with the bonuses — cannot be included in salary cap calculations when making trades and his $2.6M base is all that should be included.

This move by the NBA does dampen general manager Daryl Morey’s cap flexibility for trades because the full $10M would’ve allowed the Houston Rockets to take that amount off the books rather than just a mere $2.6M.  This would definitely limit the amount of salary the team could take back in exchange if Nene were to be packaged in a deal.

With the Houston Rockets likely being luxury-tax payers, limiting what they can do to sign the guys they want, Morey has been tasked to be creative in ensuring that he has tools he needs to make this team whole.

He’s likely been given a directive by owner Tilman Fertitta to do this as although he’s said he’ll do

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what it takes to spend money, he’d likely want to do everything he could not to pay a significant tax just to keep this roster together.

So although on the surface this looks like a contract that appears to pay Nene a hefty sum of money, it’s been watered down to a just two-year minimum salary deal.

Fertitta likes this new strategy of offering incentive-laden contracts, to which I’m sure that’s how he runs things at Landry’s, Inc. and some guys like Nene are accepting of it but Mike D’Antoni isn’t and he’s willing to coach on the last season of his contract without a new extension place to do so.

But quite honestly, at age 37, Nene should still like this deal because although it hurts the Houston Rockets in a trade, this gives him an opportunity to work hard to earn his keep and make sure that he does appear in those 40 games.  With the injuries this team experiences at times — including himself — he just might hit that mark.

I don’t think teams are running the gamut to rush to sign him but he’s a great fit for what this team does and that’s why I think he’s been such a team player through the whole process.

Next. Rockets: The defensive outlook for the 2019-20 season. dark

Nonetheless, I’m glad to have him back and he truly will be a key contributor rounding out the bench for this upcoming season.

Let’s go Houston Rockets!

Nene averaged 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 66 percent from the charity stripe that included two starts last season.