Nene will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Denver Nuggets and become an unrestricted free agent, reports Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. Dempsey had reported in early May that the opt-out was likely, but that the Nuggets still sought to reach an extension agreement with the Brazilian center. Dempsey and ESPN's Marc Stein report that a last-minute contract extension before the league's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline is considered unlikely.
The loss of Nene puts the Denver frontcourt in crisis mode, unless the Nuggets can re-sign the center as an unrestricted free agent. He expressed concern with a major rebuilding project at season's end; the Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony at midseason, but got back a package of "ready" players including Danilo Gallinari.
The only big men under contract for Denver next season are Chris Andersen, rookie Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov. Faried, Koufos and Mozgov are completely unproven, and Andersen has been primarily a defensive roleplayer focused on trying to block every shot attempted by the opponent. While Gallinari and Ty Lawson make up an effective offensive attack on their own, the frontcourt issues loom larger. As with Nene, Kenyon Martin is an unrestricted free agent.