Key Nets Free Agent Predicted to Bolt in the Offseason

Alize Johnson Nets

Getty Nicolas Claxton #33 and Alize Johnson #24 of the Brooklyn Nets run downcourt during the second half against the Charlotte Hornets

It’s an important offseason for the Brooklyn Nets as several of their key position players hit free agency, and not all of them will be returning.

A variety of veterans such as Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre Drummond all hit free agency, but there’s also a chance that youngsters like Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton won’t return.

Claxton in particular is an interesting name to look at as he’s expected to be the team’s center of the future, but he’s not even a lock to come back.

In fact, USA Today’s Josh Matthews, writing for Nets Wire, predicts that Nic Claxton won’t be returning to the Nets next season.

Claxton to Stay or Go?

Nic Claxton and Kevin Durant

GettyKevin Durant #7 high-fives Nic Claxton #33 of the Brooklyn Nets

Claxton is a restricted free agent which means Brooklyn could match any offer given to him from an opposing team.

That would mean the ball is entirely in their court on whether he stays or go this offseason. Matthews still believes Claxton is on the way out.

“As much as Claxton has progressed as a player, it’s possible that the Nets don’t see him as a necessity going forward,” he wrote. “Claxton, while averaging eight points and five boards this season, is an atrocity from behind the line.”

There’s still a lot of development ahead for Claxton, but it could happen elsewhere as the Nets are trying to capitalize on a championship window offered by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Matthews argues that with Ben Simmons joining the team next year, the Nets could move on from Claxton due to his inability to shoot from any place other than right next to the basket.

“Ben Simmons shooting struggles are a major problem and with the Nets investing in his future, it’s safe to say that Brooklyn won’t want two players on the court
that can’t stretch the floor,” he wrote.

What Happens Next?

Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond

GettyAndre Drummond was traded to Brooklyn in the James Harden-Ben Simmons deal.

The Boston Celtics showed that the Nets needed to improve their interior defense, and losing Claxton wouldn’t do much to help that.

They do need to address these needs and if their center does depart in the offseason, they’d need to find a way to replace him. A trade for Rudy Gobert could potentially be an option, but that’s likely not something the team is banking on at the moment.

Drummond returning would soften the blow, and that’s something Matthews thinks could happen.

“The Nets can absolutely utilize Drummond, if they would create a system around him he could wreak havoc in the paint,” he wrote. “Drummond is a defensive presence who hammers down finishes around the rim. The Nets would be unwise to let Drummond go.”

Drummond is one of the best rebounders the game has ever seen, but his offensive skillset is close to Claxton’s. What would work in the Nets’ favor is Drummond’s price tag, which Matthews says could come for cheap.

“Drummond has also been very cheap over the last couple of years, only costing the Nets a measly $2 million per year,” he concluded.

After a massive contract with Detroit, Drummond has been making close to the veteran’s minimum in all of his stops since that deal expired.

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