Nets Faced With Looming Decision on Former Lottery Pick, Pending Free Agent

Sean Marks

Getty General Manager Sean Marks of the Brooklyn Nets speaks at the podium during a press conference at Brooklyn Nets Media Day

Although former number six overall draft pick Nerlens Noel is no longer a household name, his addition to this current Brooklyn Nets roster is significant. The Nets signed Noel to a 10-day contract on March 4, which ends after the squad takes on the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 14. After that, the Nets will have to decide whether or not to let him go, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

“Nerlens Noel’s 10-day ostensibly ends on Wednesday. So, he can play tomorrow at the OKC Thunder, and the Nets would need to make a decision whether to let him go or sign him to a second 10-day. Brooklyn hosts the Kings on Thursday,” Lewis tweeted on March 13.

In the three games Noel has played with Brooklyn this season, he is averaging 1.0 points, 1.0 assists, and 3.0 rebounds. His numbers are not ideal, but the Nets do not need him to fill the stat sheet. With his 6’11 frame, they need Noel for his size. Especially, because of the lack of depth in the Nets’ frontcourt.

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Nic Claxton Named Among ‘Breakout Players’

The lack of depth in the Nets’ frontcourt may have been a blessing in disguise for their starting center Nicolas Claxton, whose star has shined brightly this season. He is averaging career highs in nearly every statistical category and has played a major role in the Nets remaining afloat in the Eastern Conference standings. For his efforts, Claxton has been named among this season’s breakout players by Dan Favale of Bleacher Report.

“Few players have been more impactful on the defensive end than Nic Claxton, who has the length and lateral speed to switch on to anyone, as well as the interior instincts to deter and erase looks at the hoop. Opponents are shooting 51.7 percent against him at the rim—the fourth stingiest mark among 207 players to contest at least 100 attempts around the basket. He ranks inside the top 10 of total point-blank looks contested overall,” Favale writes.

“Yet while Claxton has leveled up his defense, he’s taken longer, more meaningful strides on offense. He’s shooting almost 80 percent at the rim, which is fun. But he’s expanded his portfolio to feature more complicated usage. Claxton has already made more hook shots (35) than he did all of last season (32) without sacrificing efficiency (46.7 percent).”

Toporek: Nets Should Be ‘Grateful’ to Kyrie Irving

The Nets shocked the basketball world at the trade deadline when they completed back-to-back blockbuster trades to part ways with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. With both of their All-Stars gone and no star power on the roster, Brooklyn’s future looked grim. But since trading Durant on February 9, the Nets are 7-7 with impressive wins against the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets, two of the top teams in the NBA.

It is a little early to predict if the Nets will be able to re-enter the title picture in the near future, but this team is slowly but surely getting back to their winning ways, this time devoid of any drama. Bryan Toporek of Forbes believes the Nets should be “grateful” to Kyrie.

“Begin tearing down a roster too early, and you run the risk of those players going on to bigger and better things elsewhere. Hold on too late, and you’re setting back your own rebuild by not maximizing the return on your stars. (Or, worse yet, they depart in free agency and leave you empty-handed.),” Toporek writes.

“For that reason, the Brooklyn Nets should be grateful that Kyrie Irving forced their hand ahead of the 2023 NBA trade deadline. By requesting a trade—which led to fellow star Kevin Durant following suit days later—Irving helped the Nets expedite their retooling process rather than make one last-gasp championship push that was likely to fall short.”

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