After firing former head coach Steve Nash last season, the Brooklyn Nets quickly went from a bottom-of-the-barrel team that many were wary would even make the NBA playoffs to looking like a legit threat in the conference (before the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trades). Several factors contributed to their rise to the top, but the most obvious was the emergence of their rising star center, Nic Claxton, who averaged career-highs in nearly every statistical category.
As the Dallas Mavericks prepare to enter training camp with many questions surrounding the frontcourt, Dalton Trigg of Sports Illustrated is urging the franchise to make a trade to acquire Claxton.
Mavs receive: Nic Claxton, Dorian Finney-Smith.
Nets receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, three second-round picks.
“Both Claxton and [Josh] Green are eligible for contract extensions, but neither has received one yet, although reports say the Mavs opened initial talks with Green last month. If extensions cannot get worked out with their current teams, perhaps a double sign-and-trade with the Mavs and Nets could appease both sides,” Trigg writes.
“At 24 years old, Claxton is the type of big the Mavs hope Lively develops into, but there’s no guarantee their 19-year-old rookie will be ready for the responsibilities that come with being an NBA starting center by the time the season begins.”
Nic Claxton Was Surprised by All-Star Consideration
Claxton has turned into one of the most daunting interior defenders in the league, as displayed by his 2.5 blocks per game, which was second in the NBA behind Memphis Grizzlies star Jaren Jackson Jr. He was also one of the top candidates for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. But even amid his breakout year, Claxton admits he was surprised to get All-Star votes last season.
“Yeah. It was a surprise to me. It’s definitely a big deal. But it just makes you want to climb up on that list even higher. So, I’ve just got to stick with it and keep doing what I’m doing,” Claxton said via Barbara Barker of NewsDay.
“I feel like I can play even better, I can be more consistent. I can produce even more when I’m out there. So, I’m not getting complacent. That’s good that my name is on that list, but I still have a lot more work to do.”
Kevin Durant Comes to Nic Claxton’s Defense
Kevin Durant has a mild-mannered demeanor. But if you push the right buttons, he has no problem showing off his mean streak. During Durant’s time with the Nets, Montrezl Harrell of their Eastern Conference rival Philadelphia 76ers found that out the hard way.
Harrell spoke negatively of Claxton before the teams matched last January. When Durant caught wind of Harrell’s comments, he did not hesitate to take aim at the Sixers forward.
“Montrezl? Come on, Montrezl. He was talking crazy. Like Montrezl is not like that. Like you’re an enforcer as a basketball player, but you’re not that guy like come on man,” Durant said on the January 30 episode of “The ETCs”.
“[Claxton] is having a good year bro. Come on now. Don’t do that…there was a little shade in that! There was a little shade in that…Like, of course, Kyrie’s the head of the snake. Just like Joel Embiid is the head of the snake, but we’re not gonna forget about Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey and you, and James (Harden), but come on bro. Give somebody some credit fam. It isn’t that hard.”