After the Brooklyn Nets were bounced out of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics, the team will now focus on building a roster that can contend with the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Building a title-contending roster also means that the Nets will have to part with some of the key pieces from last year’s roster. The Nets have seven players on their roster schedulee to hit the free-agent market in 2022. And while it would be nice to keep all of the players that they have grown accustomed to, Brooklyn will have to make the tough decision of letting some of their key players walk. According to Alex Schiffer of “The Athletic”, one of those players will be Nets’ rookie standout, David Duke Jr.
“The hardest one to pick so far, Duke is more of a toss-up. His shooting numbers weren’t good, but he plays hard and rebounds well for a guard,” Schiffer writes for “The Athletic”. “But the past two years have shown how important every roster spot is for the Nets, and his game isn’t irreplaceable. The Nets can offer Duke a $1.5 million qualifying offer. Otherwise, he’ll be a restricted free agent.”
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Schiffer Suggests Nets Bring Duke Jr. Back on Two-Way Deal
Duke averaged 4.7 points, and 3.0 rebounds with shooting splits of 36.1 FG%, 24.3 3-PT. FG%, and 81.0 FT% in 22 games. At 22-years-old the Nets guard has a lot of promise. But the Nets are heading towards a championship or bust season, and they need players on their roster who are ready to contribute now. Schiffer says that if the Nets were to bring Duke back, their best option would be to do so on a two-way deal.
“As a two-way player, re-signing Duke makes sense. For a roster spot, it’s early to gauge if he’d make sense for one of the final spots. Duke played point guard at Providence but played on and off the ball as a rookie in Brooklyn. Do the Nets see him as a point guard or a shooting guard? Both? Neither? That could factor into the decision,” Schiffer continued.
“Brooklyn’s point guard depth has fluctuated ever since Irving signed. It would be an interesting experiment to make Duke the primary point guard in Summer League and see if he shows enough to groom him to be the third-string floor general.”
Schiffer: Bringing Back Nic Claxton Is Nets Priority
Perhaps the most important pending Nets free agent is their big man Nicolas Claxton who has continued to build his game during his time in Brooklyn. Schiffer notes that the Nets can offer Claxton a $2.2 million offer sheet, but other teams will likely offer him more money, in which case the Nets can choose to match it or move on from their budding big man.
“Claxton has battled injuries throughout his three-year tenure in Brooklyn, but when healthy, the results have been there. He’s arguably Brooklyn’s best defender and emerged as a reliable lob threat in the second half of the season. The Nets can offer Claxton a $2.2 million qualifying offer, but he’ll command more than that. Like [Kessler] Edwards, Claxton can add more muscle, but the potential for him to do more is there,” Schiffer writes for “The Athletic”.
“At Georgia, Tom Crean used Claxton as a 6-foot-11 point guard because of his ballhandling ability. Claxton’s 3-point and free throw shooting need work, but for a Nets offense that can use some spice, the 23-year-old could provide some ‘Bam!’ like Emeril. Re-signing Claxton appears to be a priority to the Nets and it’s hard seeing a team give Claxton an offer sheet Marks can’t match. Rookie Day’Ron Sharpe is the Nets’ lone center under contract for next season. A Claxton return gives the Nets a chance to develop a familiar supporting cast around Durant and Irving.”
The Nets have seven players set to hit free agency this summer. Needless to say, Brooklyn’s front office has some tough decisions to make before the 2022-23 season.