The Nets are prepared to match any offer to keep restricted free agent Nic Claxton, according to a report from Heavy.com. A second-round pick in 2019, the 23-year-old center will be on the market this summer after spending three years in Brooklyn. He averaged 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds this season, mostly in a backup role, and his numbers have improved each year.
An Eastern Conference general manager told Sean Deveney that there’s interest in Claxton on the open market, speculating that the Hornets or Bulls might give him an offer above the mid-level exception, possibly around $35MM over three years.
“(The Nets) are not sold on him as the big guy of the future but at that number, they’d keep him around, and know they can move him in a deal next summer if they have something better in mind,” the GM said. “Trouble is, they’ve got a short window here so they can’t wait for him too long. But (Brooklyn GM Sean Marks) is a believer in development and they are not going to give up on him that fast.”
There’s more on the Nets:
- The Celtics could be Brooklyn’s main competition for free agent Bruce Brown, Deveney adds in a separate story. Brown will be unrestricted after accepting the Nets’ qualifying offer last summer, and Boston coach Ime Udoka got to know him while serving as an assistant coach for Brooklyn last season. “He might be out of their price range in the end and maybe he goes back to Brooklyn,” a rival executive told Deveney, “but Ime was an assistant there and we’ve seen that carries some weight with who they bring in. He was good in that Celtics series. If he can’t get a big offer, they could sneak in with him on a one-and-one (one year, with a player option) deal and put him to good use.”
- Former NBA coach and current TNT broadcaster Stan Van Gundy believes the Nets have to overcome trust issues to be successful next season, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn has a talented roster, but Van Gundy hasn’t seen the cohesion necessary to win in the playoffs. “Over time … are guys going to look around and really have trust for other guys? Or will they be looking around saying, ‘You know what, that dude is going to let us down. I know he is. We can’t count on him,’” Van Gundy said. “And so they’ve got a lot to overcome in that way, which I think may even be more important than the talent they put out on the floor.”
- In another story, Lewis retraces the fall of the Nets’ Big Three and suggests that things may have gone differently if Spencer Dinwiddie hadn’t been injured. Dinwiddie underwent knee surgery on January 4, 2021, and Brooklyn traded for James Harden nine days later.