Nene (aka the largest man in the world whose name means "baby" Portuguese) is back playing for Brazil. He announced today that despite the fact that the national team still owes him money, for the first time in four years he will be playing ball for Brazil this summer in the FIBA America's Olympic qualifying tournament.
The Brazilian's will have a pretty nice little team for the tournament. They'll have Nene, Anderson Varajoa, Tiago Splitter (a projected 1st rounder) down on the block, and Leandro Barbosa running wild at the point. Unfortunately, only two teams from the America's automatically qualify, and with the US and Argentina both in the tournament I'm pretty sure the rest of the teams will be competing to get into the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year (I think the 3-5 place teams get in that). That means they have to take down the Puerto Rican Kobe Bryant (Carlos Arroyo) and the rest of his team of Puerto Ricans from NY, and Team Canada led by Todd MacCulloch. No word as to whether Rick Fox and Steve Nash will participate. Come on Foxy! Do it for Canada, eh!
I think that Nene playing this tournament is actually great news for the Nuggets. My hope is, that for the first time since joining the NBA, he won't spend the entire off-season sitting on his ass in Brazil, eating currasco and banging hot Brazilian chicks. Which means that maybe, just maybe, he might show up to training camp in shape. Then hopefully we can see an entire season out of Nene looking like the Nene we saw the in final 6 weeks of last season. Admittedly, it's hard to be mad at Nene for wanting to spend his summer getting with hot Brazilian poon, I'm pretty sure I'd do the same thing if I was given that option every summer, but it would be nice to see in in playing shape at the start of the season.
In other Nuggets news, we have been working out college players despite the fact that we don't have a draft pick this year. I doubt that we are looking to trade for a pick though, since the majority of the people we are looking at are not projected to be drafted at all.
Two interesting names at the workout were Lee Humphrey from Florida, and DJ Strawberry from Maryland. Humphrey hit 46% from 3 last season and showed unlimited range. Since we have been desperate for an outside shooting threat for the past three years, I wouldn't mind having a guy like this on the squad. Plus he's a winner, hit some clutch shots for Florida, and doesn't seem to be anywhere near as annoying as Joakim Noah (and only slightly less ugly). I doubt he could stop me from getting to the basket on defense though, but that's what Marcus Camby is for. I could see him being a poor man's John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg or something like that. Not a bad minimum wage pickup.
As for Strawberry, he's basically the polar opposite of Humphrey. He was one of the best defenders at the guard position in the NCAA last year. He's athletic, really gets after it on defense and can get to the hole on offense. His problem is that he shoots like Yakhouba Diawara. Although unlike Diawara, it sounds like DJ's "stopper" label is actually warranted. If I had to choose between Yakhouba and DJ Strawberry, I'm taking Strawberry all day.
I'd have to say that between signing Humphrey or Strawberry, I'd go with Humphrey. Although he's undersized for a 2 guard in the NBA, he can shoot. And we don't have anyone who can do that right now outside of JR Smith, and who knows what's going to happen with him.
If the Nuggets don't make a move before the draft (and it doesn't sound like they will right now) then it is going to be a quiet day. Hopefully we can find ourselves a cheap shooting threat who will be able to open up the floor some next season. If you're reading this Stan Kroenke, I'll play for half of whatever Humphrey is asking.