Minimum $15M bonus included in Denver offer

In the hopes of discouraging New Jersey from matching the deal, the Denver Nuggets have included one of the largest signing bonuses in NBA history -- one worth at least $15 million -- in the six-year, approximately $82.3 million offer sheet they are prepared to give Nets restricted free agent Kenyon Martin, sources told ESPN's David Aldridge on Tuesday night.

Denver can offer Martin up to 25 percent of its salary cap total for next season, meaning the Nuggets could pay Martin up to $10.97 million in first-year salary under the guidelines of the salary cap officially set Tuesday night at $43.87 million.

That salary figure, however, does not include the signing bonus, which would be spread out over the length of the contract for cap purposes.

It is likely the Nuggets' deal will allow for the payment of the entire signing bonus, as well as a large percentage of the first-year salary, being due to Martin soon after the contract were to begin.

Thus, the Nets would have to pay Martin a huge lump sum of between $20 and $30 million immediately to honor the terms of the deal were they to match the Nuggets' offer.

This practice of including significant signing bonuses began last season, when restricted free agents Andre Miller and Lamar Odom signed similar offer sheets that their old teams declined to match -- in part because of the huge, immediate first-year payout.

Martin also has a max offer from the Atlanta Hawks, but has narrowed his focus to the Nuggets and Nets. He has not yet decided whether to sign the offer sheet, which he can do as of 12:01 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Discussions between the Nets and Nuggets about a sign-and-trade deal, which peaked over the weekend, had stalled by Tuesday. The Nets wanted power forward Nene as part of a package that included draft picks for Martin. But the Nuggets were reluctant to include Nene in the deal, in part because of concerns about the durability of starting center Marcus Camby. If the oft-injured Camby were to be injured, the Nuggets believe Nene could step in and play center. Otherwise, Denver would have to give big minutes to young big men like Chris Andersen and Francisco Elson.

Furthermore, New Jersey seemed to cool on the draft picks, which came to Denver in trades through the Wizards, Clippers and 76ers. The Nuggets tried to sell the Nets on the idea that the picks, each of which were lottery protected in one form or another next season, would be higher in the years to come.

Nets president Rod Thorn said in a telephone interview late Tuesday that the Nets had not yet decided what to do if Martin signed an offer sheet.

"We talked with the Nuggets about a lot of different scenarios," Thorn said. "We're going to analyze it, discuss it and see what we want to do."

Thorn declined to comment when asked if new majority owner Bruce Ratner had a limit to the size of the contract he would authorize Thorn to match.