The Brooklyn Nets have some decisions to make on whether or not to bring back some of their key players as the NBA offseason quickly approaches. Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Nic Claxton, Bruce Brown, Goran Dragic, and David Duke Jr. are all set to be free agents this offseason. Some of these players have been listed as a top priority for the Nets, like Bruce Brown. And others are believed to be of importance is Nic Claxton, as the Nets have taken the time to develop him since drafting the big man in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
For a while, it was expected that the Nets would match any offers on Claxton, but recent reporting around the Nets’ salary situation could point to the center leaving as a restricted free agent.
The Nets have $154.1 million committed—when planning with the player options for Kyrie Irving and Patty Mills—for 2022-23 before accounting for the costs of signing their own free agents or bringing in reinforcements. ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted the price of bringing everyone back would be around $330 million between salary expenses and luxury tax penalties. So it’s safe to assume the Nets have to move on from some. Both Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge are expected to not be back in Brooklyn next season. So who is next?
Would the Nets let Nic Claxton Walk?
A June 18 report from the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen confirmed that the Houston Rockets are interested in signing the young big man, especially after trading Christian Wood. He also added where the Nets may stand in their decision to bring back Claxton.
The Nets “are considered unlikely to match a mid-level offer” for Claxton, who’s eligible for restricted free agency. The full mid-level exception is projected to exceed $10 million next year. For a team like Houston or other rebuilding teams, spending money on a flyer like Claxton is a smart move. Give him a couple of seasons to prove what he can do before his next contract. For the Nets, whose championship window might be getting close, Claxton might not be the best move.
Another reason to believe that the Nets might not be all that committed to Claxton is that Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News reported in February that Brooklyn was “working to move” Claxton prior to the NBA trade deadline.
Nic Claxton in Brooklyn
Nic Claxton has certainly improved in his time in Brooklyn, but has he improved enough to match any contract he may get as a restricted free agent? The big man is still a horrendous free throw shooter at 53.9 percent. His offense on a larger spectrum is also limited. You can’t count on any consistent contributions scoring. At one point, he was showing signs of developing a perimeter shot but shot only 2-for-12 from three last season. The signs aren’t there to suggest he can add anything more than that.
While he did average 7.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 18.7 minutes per game, he also showcased an ability to be a capable defender with an ability to switch on defense. Is that enough to bring him back and match an MLE offer for him? It’s hard to say, but according to Feigen’s reporting, the Nets may not think so.