Nets Prized Free Agent Could Replace Chicago Bulls All-Star in 2023

Nic Claxton and Kevin Durant

Getty Kevin Durant #7 high-fives Nic Claxton #33 of the Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets center Nicolas Claxton will be just one of several players from the 2022 roster who will enter free agency on July 1. Claxton will be a restricted free agent, in which case a team other than the Nets can offer him a deal, and the Nets can decide to either match that offer or let Claxton walk.

As a 24-year-old full of raw talent, Claxton could pique the interest of teams who are not necessarily among the top title contenders but are looking to add players who can help get them to that point. One Eastern Conference general manager says that the Bulls could be interested in Claxton to replace their All-Star center Nikola Vucevic.

“The Bulls are going to be pressing for a big man. Maybe they give (Nikola) Vucevic another year, but it was obvious he was a weak link for them,” the general manager said to Deveney.

“They need defense at the rim, that is why you hear them interested in Mitchell Robinson and Claxton, guys like that. Claxton is restricted, but if they make a full mid-level offer, if they go four years and about $45 million, they could make it tough on the Nets to match it.”

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Teams Urged to ‘Rescue’ Claxton From the Nets

Claxton has made significant improvements to his game since he first entered the league in 2019. However, playing for a Nets team that has featured big men such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Jarrett Allen, and Andre Drummond, has caused his playing time to be sporadic.

And with Aldridge, Drummond, and Blake Griffin all scheduled to hit the free-agent market, the Nets could outsource for help at center, which may mean another decrease in minutes for Claxton. Dan Favale of “Bleacher Report” is urging teams who need a center to save Claxton from the Nets.

“Smart teams with huge chunks of minutes available at center should be looking to rescue Nic Claxton from a Brooklyn Nets squad that has failed to make him the rotation constant he deserves to be,” Favale writes per “Bleacher Report”.

“Stretching defenses outside of the paint is not Claxton’s game. He has more offensive depth to explore—including a baby hook shot—but not a big-time jumper. Brooklyn will want him back anyway. His five-position switchability is legit. But sticking around with an organization that can assure neither consistent nor optimal usage isn’t what’s best for him.”

LaVine Leaving Bulls Could Have Ripple Effect on Nets

Claxton may not be the only Nets player potentially relocating from Brooklyn to Chicago during the offseason. Chris Miller of “NBC Sports Washington” notes that if Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine departs in free agency, Chicago could be a potential trade partner for the Nets in a sign and trade deal for Kyrie Irving if he opts out and becomes a free agent as well.

“This is entirely predicated on the possibility Zach LaVine leaves in free agency. There seems to be some momentum behind that happening, between reports out of Chicago and also LaVine saying publicly he’s always been a Lakers fan,” Miller writes per “NBC Sports Washington”.

“Whether it’s L.A. or not, it seems entirely possible he bolts and leaves the Bulls with a roster ready to win and a hole in their backcourt. Irving could fill that spot nicely; the problem would just be making a deal work to get him there. It wouldn’t be easy, but Irving would be an ideal replacement for LaVine if it comes to that.”

General manager Sean Marks and the Nets front office have their work cut out for them this summer. It will be interesting to see if they can turn the Nets into a legit title contender with their roster moves.

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