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Johan Petro Leaves Denver, Gets Three-Year Deal With Nets

Jul 10, 2010 – 10:20 PM
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Chris Tomasson

Chris Tomasson %BloggerTitle%

Denver's search for big men got even more urgent Saturday.

Center Johan Petro, who was serviceable in starting 16 Nuggets games late last season in place of Kenyon Martin, agreed Saturday to sign a three-year, $10 million deal with New Jersey.

"He's very happy. He's very happy,'' said Petro's agent, Sam Goldfeder, understandably repeating himself since his client more than tripled his $884,881 minimum salary from last season.

Goldfeder said the Nuggets were "very interested'' in bringing Petro back but it never got to the stage were they offered a multi-year contract. Petro had told FanHouse late last season he wanted a multi-year year, and he jumped when the Nets made the offer.

"We needed a backup center with some size,'' New Jersey president Rod Thorn said of the 7-foot, 247-pound five-year veteran. "He did a good job with the Nuggets. We've been looking at him for a few years.''

While the salary Petro got sounds a bit high for a guy who averaged 3.4 points and 3.6 rebounds last season, Thorn said "a lot of teams are looking for big men.'' At least Petro did increase his averages to 4.8 points and 5.6 rebounds when he started after barely playing earlier in the season.

The only post players the Nuggets have with guaranteed contracts for next season are Nene, Martin and Chris Andersen, their three main guys. But assistant coach Adrian Dantley said in an interview with NBA TV on Saturday that Martin and Andersen both might not be ready for the start of next season after undergoing "major'' knee surgery this offseason.

While he wasn't being counted on to play a key role, adding to Denver's woes was center Brian Butch, who has a non-guaranteed contract for next season, going down with a knee injury in a game Saturday in Las Vegas at the NBA Summer League and being taken off on a stretcher. It's not known yet how long Butch, who suffered a dislocated left patella and returned to Denver to be evaluated Monday, will be out.

Denver is looking at free-agent power forward Louis Amundson, who told FanHouse Friday he's likely to leave Phoenix and would like to sign with the Nuggets. Amundson is from the Denver area.

Amundson, though, is a bit undersized. Even if he is brought in, the Nuggets still likely would need a true center.

Petro was the team's only 7-footer last season, and now he's gone. Goldfeder spoke well of how far Petro came after he barely played last season until getting his chance in March when Martin went down with a knee injury.

"The coaching staff, with John Welch, really worked hard with him,'' Goldfeder said. "And Johan gets a lot of credit. He could have easily packed it in when he wasn't playing but he worked his butt off.''

Petro had said he probably wouldn't play for France in this summer's World Championships because he wanted to focus on getting a multi-year deal. While Goldfeder said Petro still "probably won't play,'' he said it's not out of the question he could change his mind after quickly agreeing to a deal.

It's the type of contract Petro wasn't sure he would be able to land. No wonder he's very happy.

Chris Tomasson can be reached at tomasson@fanhouse.com or on Twitter @christomasson.
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