The Brooklyn Nets got their first win of the 2022-23 NBA season tonight in Brooklyn against the Toronto Raptors. After falling to the New Orleans Pelicans in their first game when the Nets were dominated in the paint and out-rebounded 61-39, it was clear that they needed to step it up defensively and on the glass. Against the Raptors, the Nets came out on top in the rebound category 44-41. One of the players with the strongest performances on Friday night was Nic Claxton, who came out with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. An encouraging sign as the Nets’ current plan is to give Claxton a chance to earn the starting spot, and Day’Ron Sharpe the opportunity to be Brooklyn’s big off of the bench.
The Nets have been linked to looking to add veteran big men to help offset their current young and inexperienced frontcourt. Markieff Morris has the most experience, and while head coach Steve Nash says he is a center, he’s not a true center nor does he have the height needed for Eastern Conference battles against the likes of Joel Embiid. Dwight Howard, Hassan Whiteside, DeMarcus Cousins, and Derrick Favors have all been named as potential pieces the Nets could add, but no moves have been made thus far.
NBA Executive Names Potential Big Men Targets for Nets
Nets general manager Sean Marks made it clear that the current plan is to give their young centers every opportunity to earn their minutes early on in the season, but is it sustainable for the full season and into the postseason? They’d likely want to have an experienced veteran to take some of those minutes as well. One Eastern Conference Executive named a few potential players he could see the Nets targetting in a conversation with Heavy Sports NBA Insider Sean Deveney.
“They’re small. The thing about being in the East is that you’re looking at Joel Embiid, and if you have to go up against him with Nic Claxton and Markieff Morris, that is not enough. I think they know that. They gave Claxton a new contract, but they’re not sold on him, so this year is a trial run. They can trade him if they feel they need to, he has value. But he’s the first option there. They can play small throughout the regular season, but you can’t pay Ben Simmons at center in the playoffs, too many coaches will pick that apart in a series.
The thing is, they will have options. There are big guys out there you can plug in for 20 minutes and let them be physical, and there will probably be more at the trade deadline. Hassan Whiteside is out there. Derrick Favors now, he is out there. (DeMarcus) Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein — you can get a big body in there if you need to. But you probably won’t see them make a move until January on that,” the Eastern Conference Executive told Deveney.
One of the names that stands out on the Nets list is Willie Cauley-Stein, who was recently waived by the Houston Rockets and could be an excellent option for this Nets team. He is a 29-years-old seven-footer that has averaged 8.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for his career. As an athletic big he can bring a shot blocking presence to this Nets team. He could have the most upside of any of the names added from the aging veterans.
Nets Also Linked to Dwight Howard
While the executive named potential big men for Brooklyn, a name off of his list was Dwight Howard, who this week was reported to be in discussion by Nets management at the Nets headquarters.
Brandon “ScoopB” Robinson, who has been at the forefront of the Howard rumors, shared that not only have the Nets discussed Howard, that the free agent center is also interested in the Nets.
“Dwight’s name has been discussed at HQ I’m told. Dwight’s expressed that he’d like to join,” Robinson shared via Twitter.
Whether the move comes soon or it comes late into the season is still a mystery for the Nets. In one game, their current big men have a hard time competing with the opposing team’s big men like in game one against the Pelicans, the next they have a very encouraging game like Claxton did in game two against the Raptors. It certainly won’t hurt to have veteran depth.