Proposed Trade Retools Nets’ Backcourt Around Young ‘Dynamic’ Duo

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Head coach Jacque Vaughn of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets may need to take a step back to launch themselves forward and a new starting backcourt would be a solid place to start.

“The Blazers’ first call this summer should be to Brooklyn, checking on the asking price of not just [Mikal] Bridges, but [Nic] Claxton as well,” writes Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report. “Surrounding Damian Lillard with one of the league’s best wing stoppers and rim protectors would finally give him the defensive help he needs.”

Nets get:

Jusuf Nurkic
Shaedon Sharpe
Anfernee Simons
– 2023 1st Rd Pick (after No. 1 overall)

Blazers get:

– Mikal Bridges
– Nic Claxton
Joe Harris

“Simons and Sharpe…are both dynamic guards, and landing another top selection in 2023 would stack this roster with elite young talent,” Swartz argues.

Swartz also notes this deal wouldn’t even be a consideration if the Blazers’ first-round pick ends up at No. 1, at which point they would likely take Victor Wembanyama. But anything beyond that should be on the table.

Portland currently has the fifth-best odds at No. 1 overall, per Tankathon.

A Potential New Nets Backcourt

Simons, 23, is coming off averaging a career-high 21.1 points on 44.7% shooting and 37.7% from three-point range. He also added 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds. The No. 24 overall pick n 2018, Simons signed a four-year, $100 million contract in June of 2022 giving his team control through the 2025-26 season.

Sharpe will turn 20 years old on May 30. He was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft after sitting out during his lone season at the University of Kentucky. His 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists on .472/.360/.714 efficiency this season only told part of the story.

Nurkic, 28, is heading into the second year of a four-year, $70 million pact that carries a $19-plus million cap hit in 2026 with no outs.

He’s big – 6-foot-11, 290 pounds – and would seem to fit the idea of the interior anchor the Nets have lacked but his skill set is more geared toward the offensive end of the floor. Nurkic averaged 13.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists this past season while averaging fewer than 1.0 blocks per game for the second year in a row.

That would only add to the sting of losing Claxton who is coming off a breakout campaign right alongside the budding star in Bridges.

A Steep Climb in the Wrong Direction

Bridges has earned plenty of fanfare for scaling his game to fit a featured role after being traded to the Nets by the Phoenix Suns. He ranked just inside the top 20 in scoring with 26.1 points per game – which would have been a career-high – to go with 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.0 steals from that point on.

“We’re talking about a young man that’s growing in front of our eyes,” Vaughn said via YES Network on YouTube on April 22. “And we get a chance to see it and see what it’s like to be called upon in the fourth quarter and have to produce when you’re guarding the best player on the other team. A great learning experience that we can’t replicate unless he goes through it. And he’s going to grow from it, he’s going to be a better player from it.

Nets general manager Sean Marks sounds as high on Claxton as head coach Jacque Vaughn was about Bridges.

Claxton’s breakout was louder at the beginning of the season when he could play off Durant and Kyrie Irving. But he still finished the regular season as the NBA’s leader in field goal percentage and finished tied for second in blocks.

The Nets could shed the final year of Harris’ four-year, $75 million contract — worth $19.9 million — but the added expense of Bridges and Claxton is steep for a team that wants to contend.

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