Nicolas Claxton

Atlantic Rumors: Claxton, Simmons, C. Brown, Birch

The Nets appear to have “dipped their toe” into the trade market for Nicolas Claxton, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst stated on his latest Hoop Collective podcast, adding that he has heard about Claxton’s possible availability from two different teams (hat tip to RealGM). While Brooklyn may not be actively looking to move the young center, the team is at least “feeling out” the market, Windhorst says.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the Nets considering the possibility of a Claxton trade. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said last month that Brooklyn “quietly gauged” the 22-year-old’s value at the 2021 draft. Fischer also reported that some rival executives believed the Nets would make Claxton available ahead of this season’s trade deadline.

Claxton will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, and the Nets – already far above the luxury tax line – may be hesitant about giving him a sizeable raise. Additionally, rookie big man Day’Ron Sharpe has emerged recently as a viable rotation player who could claim some of Claxton’s minutes.

Still, Mark Deeks of Heavy.com isn’t convinced that trading Claxton would be the right call for the Nets, arguing that it would be difficult for the club to recoup enough value to make it worthwhile in both the short- and long-term.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers star Ben Simmons is open to the possibility of sitting out for the entire 2021/22 season if the team can’t find a trade it likes by next month’s deadline, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said on Monday’s episode of NBA Today (video link). There have been reports that Philadelphia’s preference would be to get Simmons back on the court this season before potentially trading him in the offseason, but the idea of him playing for the club again has always seemed like a long shot.
  • Charlie Brown Jr.‘s new two-way contract with the Sixers, signed last Tuesday, is a two-year deal covering the 2022/23 season in addition to the rest of ’21/22, Hoops Rumors has learned. That doesn’t mean Brown will definitely remain in Philadelphia through next season, but it ensures he’ll receive at least a $50K partial guarantee for ’22/23.
  • Raptors center Khem Birch, who suffered a nasal fracture on Friday, underwent surgery to repair his broken nose over the weekend, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Head coach Nick Nurse expects Birch to be out for about 10-to-14 days, Lewenberg adds.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Nets, Celtics, Bonga

Nets coach Steve Nash said Kyrie Irving “looks great, considering” and is “getting close” to making his season debut, according to Peter Botte of The New York Post. Irving, who can only play in road games because he hasn’t complied with New York City’s vaccination requirement, could return Wednesday at Indiana, although Nash hasn’t committed to that date.

“He was in isolation for however many days, 10-plus days, I think. For him to come out of that and look as good as he has playing with the stay ready group and getting his rhythm back has been exciting,” Nash said. “We have to give him time to really get his feet under him, but as far as how he looks, he looks very gifted.”

Irving rejoined the team for practice last week after clearing health and safety protocols. If he doesn’t play Wednesday, the next opportunity will be January 12 at Chicago.

“I think he’s on his way. It’s getting close,” Nash added. “We’ve just got to make sure we don’t make a hasty decision, but it’s coming.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nash experimented Thursday by starting LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Claxton on the front line alongside Kevin Durant and he may use that super-sized lineup again, Botte adds in a separate story. “That was really my first time being out there with L.A. (Aldridge). We’ll definitely adjust to it once we get more reps in. Hopefully, we go to it a lot in the near future,” Claxton said. “The biggest adjustment is just having another big on the court.”
  • The Celtics will have to decide soon whether to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and the team isn’t making the decision easy for president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. After going 6-9 in December, Boston closed out the month by routing the Suns, who have the second-best record in the league. The Celtics are currently in ninth place, part of a logjam of teams between fifth and 12th that are just three and a half games apart.
  • With Isaac Bonga clearing protocols, the Raptors aren’t currently eligible for any more 10-day hardship contracts, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. The team’s latest injury report lists Bonga as out for today’s game due to conditioning, rather than the health and safety protocols. Today marks the end of Daniel Oturu‘s 10-day deal.

Nets Notes: Harden, Bembry, Durant, Claxton, Irving

Nets guard James Harden, who exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Thursday, will be available to play on Christmas Day in Los Angeles vs. the Lakers, head coach Steve Nash said today (Twitter link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN).

The NBA’s slate of December 25 games will still be lacking some star power – Luka Doncic has been formally ruled out for the Mavericks vs. Utah, tweets Marc Stein – but Harden’s return is welcome news for both the league and the Nets, who played with a skeleton crew during their most recent game last Saturday.

Here’s more news out of Brooklyn:

  • DeAndre’ Bembry is no longer in the health and safety protocols, Nash said today (Twitter link via Youngmisuk). A total of nine Nets players remain in the protocols, including Kevin Durant, who won’t be available on Christmas Day.
  • Nicolas Claxton, who had been battling a wrist injury, is good to go for Saturday’s game vs. the Lakers, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. LaMarcus Aldridge is still in the protocols, so Claxton should get plenty of run at the five.
  • While most Nets players who exit the COVID-19 protocols should be cleared to play pretty quickly, Kyrie Irving – who has been away from the team all season – will require some extra time once his quarantine period ends, Nash said on Thursday. “I think he has to do some sort of ramp-up, some sort of playing, not just [go right in],” Nash said, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “When you’re at home working out by yourself, it’s a lot different.” Since Irving is only eligible to play in the Nets’ road games, he won’t make his season debut before January 5 in Indiana. January 12 in Chicago would be his next opportunity to play if he’s not ready for the Pacers game.

Three Nets Rookies Enter Protocols; Harden, Two Others Exit

The Nets announced some good news and some bad news on Thursday morning. Three players – James Harden, Paul Millsap, and Jevon Carter – have exited the health and safety protocols, but three others – rookies Cameron Thomas, David Duke, and Kessler Edwards – have entered the protocols, tweets Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

You could make a strong case that no team has been hit harder in the last couple weeks by COVID-19 than Brooklyn, which still has 10 players in the league’s protocols after today’s updates. Of the 17 players the team had been carrying on its standard roster, 13 have been in the protocols this month, while Joe Harris (ankle) and Nicolas Claxton (wrist) have dealt with injuries.

Patty Mills and Blake Griffin have been the only players unaffected, and even Griffin is playing through knee pain. The Nets have also signed four replacement players – Langston Galloway, James Ennis, Shaquille Harrison, and Wenyen Gabriel – via hardship exceptions to help fill out the roster.

Brooklyn’s game in Portland on Thursday has been postponed, but the NBA will certainly want to avoid having the team’s Christmas Day game vs. the Lakers endure a similar fate. Head coach Steve Nash said today that Harris won’t play on the Nets’ current road trip, but the team hopes to have Claxton return on either Saturday vs. the Lakers or Monday vs. the Clippers (Twitter link via Brain Lewis of The New York Post).

If Harden, Millsap, and Carter are all cleared to return and Mills, Griffin, and the four replacement players are good to go, Brooklyn would have at least nine players available, even without Claxton. The Nets remain eligible to complete more hardship signings before Saturday too, if they so choose.

Nets Rumors: Harris, Irving, Claxton, Trade Exceptions

The Nets have expressed a “surprising willingness” to discuss veteran sharpshooter Joe Harris in trade talks this season, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Fischer acknowledges that it would take a significant offer to pry Harris away from Brooklyn, but suggests the team seems open to the possibility.

“It’s crazy to me; he’s their only real three-and-D player,” one assistant general manager told Fischer. “But his name keeps popping up.”

Harris, who has missed the last month due to a left ankle injury, is under contract for two more years beyond 2021/22. He’ll earn fully guaranteed salaries of $18.64MM in ’22/23 and $19.93MM in ’23/24. That makes him a pricey role player for one of the NBA’s top taxpaying teams, but Harris’ outside shooting is worth the cost — he has led the league in three-point percentage in two of the past three seasons and is leading the way again in 2021/22 with a 46.6% mark.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Brooklyn has remained open to discussing trade involving Kyrie Irving, but haven’t gained real traction on any scenarios involving the star point guard, sources tell Fischer.
  • Rival executives believe the Nets could make Nicolas Claxton available prior to the trade deadline, according to Fischer, who says the team “quietly gauged” the center’s value around the 2021 draft. Claxton has been productive on a team-friendly deal for Brooklyn, but will get more expensive in 2022, when he reaches restricted free agency.
  • There’s a sense among rival execs that the Nets will use one of their traded player exceptions to acquire a veteran before the trade deadline, with Claxton a candidate to be an outgoing piece in such a deal, writes Fischer. Brooklyn created TPEs in their Spencer Dinwiddie sign-and-trade ($11.5MM) and their DeAndre Jordan salary dump ($6.3MM).

New York Notes: Claxton, Kemba, Noel, Thibs

The return of springy young Nets big man Nicolas Claxton to action could help improve the uneven play of All-Star shooting guard James Harden, says Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post. Claxton, much like Harden’s former Rockets running mate Clint Capela, can serve as a prime rim-rolling recipient of Harden lobs. Claxton has appeared in just six Brooklyn games for the 2021/22 season due to a non-COVID-19 illness.

“It would be great to get Nic going again, getting him fully functioning again,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said of Claxton’s return. “We saw him Friday night and obviously it looked like he hadn’t played in a while, was fouling and just a little out of rhythm. And that’s normal for a guy who has had that much of a layoff, lost a bunch of weight, is trying to get himself back in shape. By the end of the year, we would love Nic to be a great add to what we do on both ends of the floor.”

On Tuesday night, in a 102-99 defeat of the Mavericks, Claxton suited up for nearly 21 minutes off the bench. The 6’11” big man logged six points and nine boards in just his second game back from his illness.

There’s more out of the Big Apple:

  • The Knicks would likely consult Kemba Walker were they to seriously consider trading the veteran point guard, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Walker, a former four-time All-Star with the Hornets and Celtics, has been demoted from starter to DNP-CD, and has not suited up for New York at all since November 26. The 31-year-old is averaging career lows of 11.7 PPG, 3.1 APG and 2.6 RPG.
  • Knicks center Nerlens Noel returned to New York’s starting lineup, replacing Mitchell Robinson in the role, ahead of Tuesday night’s 121-109 victory over the 8-15 Spurs, per Steve Popper of Newsday. Noel took and made just one field goal, but also chipped in eight rebounds, three dimes, one steal and a block in the win. Robinson, meanwhile, enjoyed a terrific night with the second unit, notching 11 points and 14 boards. The Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory and returned to .500 on the season with a 12-12 record. Robinson conceded that, as a result of an offseason surgery and subsequent weight gain, he has struggled with his conditioning, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News“I’m getting tired real quick,” Robinson said before Tuesday’s game. “I run for about six or seven minutes, and then boom — I’m gassed. So it’s something I need to work on real bad … I wish I could jump right back into it and be who I was before the injury.”
  • Much like his former boss Jeff Van Gundy in the 1998/99 NBA season, current Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau may have to figure out major rotational changes to improve the up-and-down Knicks this year, per Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post. Among those adjustments, Vaccaro suggests potentially exploring more run for emerging second-year power forward Obi Toppin and rookie shooting guard Quentin Grimes, and possibly reducing the role of defensive sieve Evan Fournier, whom New York added on a four-year, $78MM contract via a sign-and-trade with the Celtics this past summer.

Nets Notes: Millsap, Durant, Mills, Claxton

Free agent addition Paul Millsap turned in his best game since joining the Nets in Saturday’s loss to the Bulls, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. The veteran power forward is only averaging 11.3 minutes of playing time in 18 games, but he got an expanded opportunity with James Johnson sidelined by a shoulder injury and delivered 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

“He was great. He did a little bit of everything,” coach Steve Nash said. “He scored the ball. He was able to initiate some offense. He got some rebounds, offensive rebounds. Got some steals. Just did a bit of everything. His intensity was great and I thought his impact on the game was really good.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Kevin Durant played 38 minutes in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, and Nash hasn’t given any thought to cutting his playing time, Botte adds. Durant has only missed one game this season and welcomes the heavy workload. “Kevin’s mentality is a huge reason why he’s one of the best players of all-time,” Nash said. “He loves the game. He comes in every day and has a laser focus on his routine, he finds the most happiness when he’s on the basketball court. The success he has is really the mentality as much as it is the gifts. The joy that the game gives him makes him sacrifice every day. So to tell him, ‘Hey, we’re going to limit your minutes on a back-to-back’ is not going to get over very well.”
  • Patty Mills wasn’t expecting to be a starter when he signed with the Nets over the summer, but that has changed because of Kyrie Irving‘s absence and an injury to Joe Harris, Botte notes in a separate story. Mills made his ninth straight start Saturday and may be in that role for a while. “Patty has been great, and we’re asking for a lot from him now with guys being injured,” Durant said. “But he’s taken on that challenge, and we’re going to need a lot more from him going forward.”
  • Nash was excited to welcome back center Nicolas Claxton, who returned Friday after missing 17 games with a non-COVID illness, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “He’s an athletic, active big that can guard multiple positions, protect the rim, roll on offense and just be disruptive with his energy, length and athleticism,” Nash said. “That’s a unique profile for our team. If we can get him back to where he’s confident and comfortable physically, mentally and emotionally and adapting to our play, there’s no reason he can’t regain that.” 

Atlantic Notes: Claxton, Sixers, Embiid, Brown

The Nets are ready to welcome back Nicolas Claxton, who is expected to be available tonight after missing more than five weeks with a non-COVID illness, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Claxton was Brooklyn’s starting center in the first three games of the season, then moved to a reserve role for game four before the illness struck.

Claxton refused to comment on reports that he had mononucleosis, preferring to call it an “undisclosed” illness. He said the most difficult aspect of the experience was dropping weight off his already-slender 6’11” frame.

“The toughest part was just honestly just losing weight, and looking at yourself in the mirror and I was just so small,” Claxton said. “But I’m back now. I’m back in shape and ready to get back in game shape.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Trail Blazersfiring of general manager Neil Olshey may open the door for a trade with the Sixers, suggests Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Olshey drafted backcourt stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and has been reluctant to break them up. Both have been mentioned as possible returns for Philadelphia as the Sixers seek a resolution to the Ben Simmons standoff. Neubeck states that Portland may be more open to moving McCollum now that Olshey is no longer in charge, or Lillard may see Olshey’s firing as incentive to request a trade. While most Philadelphia fans prefer the second option, Neubeck believes a move with McCollum is more realistic.
  • In a separate story, Neubeck examines the Sixers‘ recent offensive struggles and looks at how the team can create more easy opportunities for Joel Embiid. Part of the problem occurs when Matisse Thybulle is used for defensive purposes, making it easier for opponents to double team Embiid. Neubeck says coach Doc Rivers needs to adjust his rotations, especially late in games. “The whole season I haven’t gotten any easy ones. It feels like I’ve got to work for everything, that’s why I say we’ve got to communicate,” Embiid said this week. “I’ve got to let my teammates and my guys know, and I probably got to come up with it myself, find ways that I can get easy ones. It just feels like I have to work for everything. I get doubled every single possession.”
  • Jaylen Brown experienced tightness in his right hamstring during Wednesday’s game and Celtics coach Ime Udoka plans to be “cautious” about playing him, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Brown missed eight games last month with a hamstring strain.

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Claxton, Fournier, Burks

Appearing on Toucher and Rich on Boston radio on Thursday morning, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens expressed displeasure with one of the quotes included in Tim Bontemps’ ESPN report on the team last week. As we relayed, an anonymous assistant coach who spoke to Bontemps questioned Jayson Tatum‘s desire to win, suggesting that the forward only wants to win “on his terms.” Stevens vehemently disagreed, calling the comment “a joke.”

“I thought that quote was absolutely ridiculous, to be honest,” Stevens said, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “I don’t ever react to that stuff and I actually sent a note to one of the people I work with like, ‘This is idiotic.’ Just be around (Tatum) every day. That guy loves to win. He’s sitting there with his feet in the ice bucket after every game that we lose and he looks despondent. This guy’s competitive. I know that for a fact. I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Stevens said that anonymous assistant coach shouldn’t be making that sort of comment without putting his name to it, but acknowledged that wouldn’t happen because it would provide Tatum with bulletin-board material when the Celtics played the assistant’s team.

“Jayson would kill him every time he played him for the rest of his career,” Stevens said. “That’s the way those guys in this league are wired.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Nets center Nicolas Claxton, a restricted free agent in 2022, recently hired new representation, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link), who says Claxton has signed with CAA Sports. Bondy adds that the non-COVID illness which has kept the big man out of action since October 25 is mononucleosis. Claxton appears to be nearing a return though. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN notes (via Twitter), he’s not listed on the team’s latest injury report for Friday’s game.
  • Ian O’Connor of The New York Post says the Knicks‘ benching of Kemba Walker should send a message to Evan Fournier, another one of the team’s major free agent additions whose play has been inconsistent since he arrived in New York.
  • The decision to pull Walker out of the rotation and start Alec Burks is paying early dividends for the Knicks, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Burks has led New York in scoring in his first two games as a starter and the team is playing better defense.

New York Notes: Claxton, Irving, Noel, Walker

An undisclosed illness has sidelined Nets center Nicolas Claxton for about three weeks, and he tells Brian Lewis of The New York Post that he hopes to return soon. Claxton missed more than two weeks with COVID-19 late last season, but was asymptomatic and said he’s not dealing with any long-term effects. He said he lost a lot of weight from the most recent ailment, but is now in the “ramp-up stage” and is preparing to play again.

“I was sick. That’s the extent I want to go with,” Claxton said. “I was sick. But I’m feeling better now. I’m getting back to where I need to be so I can get out there and play. I’m excited to get back out there with my teammates.”

Claxton was one of Brooklyn’s best defenders last season, Lewis notes, and would be a welcome addition for a team that needs help in the middle. The Nets are starting Blake Griffin as an undersized center with LaMarcus Aldridge as the backup.

There’s more from New York City:

  • The Nets‘ offense has stagnated and Kevin Durant admitted this week that the absence of Kyrie Irving is part of the problem, Lewis adds in a separate story. Brooklyn set an NBA record for offensive rating last season at 117.3, but currently ranks 25th in the league at 101.0. “Yeah, we do miss Kyrie. We do,” Durant said. “He’s a part of our team. But for the most part, we’ve been generating great shots, we’ve been getting into the paint. It’s just a matter of us knocking them down. I think they’ll come.”
  • Knicks center Nerlens Noel was thrilled to be back on the court this afternoon following a 12-day absence, per Barbara Barker of Newsday. Noel, who has been dealing with a knee injury, had played only four games and taken just nine shots from the field before today. “Just having the rim protection that Nerlens provides is a big asset for us,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “… Taj (Gibson) did a good job when he was in there. But it’s good to have Nerlens back.”
  • Kemba Walker sat out the first game of the Knicks‘ last back-to-back, but he played today and may be in the lineup again tomorrow, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. The coaching staff plans to see how Walker feels Sunday morning before making a decision. “If he feels good, he’ll go,” Thibodeau said. “…You trust Kemba.”