DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets agreed Thursday to ship big man Nene to Washington in a three-team deal, with the Wizards sending JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to Denver and Nick Young to the Los Angeles Clippers, a person with knowledge of the trade told The Associated Press.
Washington also picked up forward Brian Cook in the deal. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made about the deal, which was completed right at the trade deadline.
The Nuggets signed Nene to a new five-year, $67 million contract in December. He was averaging 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in an injury-plagued season. But the recent play of rookie forward Kenneth Faried made Nene expendable.
ESPN was among the first to report the trade and also said that Washington would receive a future second-round pick from Los Angeles.
It’s the second straight season the Nuggets have orchestrated a deal at the deadline. They sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks in a blockbuster deal in February 2011. That move ignited the Nuggets, who went 18-7 down the stretch before falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.
The Nuggets, who are in the thick of the playoff chase once again this season, are a team without a superstar. Instead, coach George Karl relies on his superior depth to wear teams down and McGee figures to help in that regard. Turiaf is on the mend after breaking his left hand on Jan. 1.
Denver hosts Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
The deal ends up costing the Clippers virtually nothing. Cook hasn’t cracked their rotation since signing with the club before last season.
This also will be a homecoming for Young, a Los Angeles native and a two-time all-conference standout at Southern California before becoming a consistent NBA scorer in five seasons with Washington, averaging 17.4 points per game last season and 16.6 this year. The versatile swingman seems to be an ideal fit for the Clippers, who have been eager to add perimeter scoring punch to their talented lineup after losing veteran guard Chauncey Billups to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury last month.
Although Young is notorious for his reluctance to pass, the Clippers have plenty of playmakers with Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe and even Blake Griffin. Young, a free agent after the season, will be asked to provide some added offense as the Clippers move toward their second playoff berth in 15 years and just their second winning season in two decades.
This represents Washington general manager Ernie Grunfeld’s latest — and perhaps last — attempt to reconfigure the roster of a team that used to be built around All-Stars Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler.
The Wizards are pretty much starting over yet again now, constructing a team around point guard John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft.
Having already fired coach Flip Saunders this season, Washington was 9-32 heading into its game at New Orleans on Thursday night. Young was their second-leading scorer, and McGee was their leading rebounder, averaging 8.8, along with 11.9 points.
At one point, Young and McGee were considered potential building blocks for Washington. But their play often has been selfish or undisciplined, and the Wizards decided to move on.
AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Los Angeles and Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)