Nic Claxton

Nets Notes: Simmons, Point Guards, Whitehead, Sharpe, More

Nets guard Ben Simmons is taking part in 5-on-5 workouts without any restrictions and is expected to be a full participant in training camp, head coach Jacque Vaughn and general manager Sean Marks said on Tuesday, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“Pretty simple that way which is good for me to say, and I think that fits into an exciting time for me to have this group together,” Vaughn said. “No restrictions at the beginning of the year — get to form an identity together, get to form some relationships at the beginning of the year, a style of play, so really looking forward to the challenge and getting to training camp because of that.”

In addition to discussing Simmons’ health, Vaughn confirmed something the former No. 1 overall pick said last month, telling reporters that the relationship between the two men is in a better place now than it was last season. As Bontemps details, Vaughn also agreed with Simmons’ assessment that he’s a point guard, though the head coach did offer a caveat.

“I would use the word ‘agreement’ more so than ‘commitment,'” Vaughn said when he was asked if he’s committed to playing Simmons at the point this season. “The agreement is if he’s playing at a consistent and high level, then I think our pictures look exactly the same. I think you can kind of put it in that category.”

Asked if Simmons is competing with Spencer Dinwiddie for minutes at point guard, Vaughn said the two guards will share the floor at times, with Dennis Smith Jr. also in the mix for a regular backcourt role, tweets Ian Begley of

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • There’s no specific timeline for the return of first-round pick Dariq Whitehead, who underwent foot surgery in the spring, but the Nets certainly don’t expect him to miss his entire rookie season, per Adam Zagoria of “We’re definitely not going to rush him,” Marks said. “We love the grit and determination. I wouldn’t put a timeline on when he’ll be back but he will definitely be playing this year.”
  • While Vaughn still expects to use smaller lineups frequently in 2023/24, he wants to give Day’Ron Sharpe an opportunity to earn a role since he’s one of the team’s best rebounders, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter links). The head coach also said that he expects Simmons and center Nic Claxton to share the floor quite a bit, despite the spacing issues it created last season.
  • For the first time since 2018, the Nets won’t have any superstar players on their roster entering training camp. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be open to pursuing a star in the next year or two if the right opportunity arises, but it also doesn’t sound like they feel compelled to do so. “(Team owner) Joe Tsai, myself and (Vaughn) have talked openly about how this team will look in the upcoming years and when’s the right time to go back in,” Marks said, according to Bontemps. “Whether it’s facilitating another deal, whether it’s acquiring more players, whether it’s seeing what these young guys on our team right now can develop, and that’s an exciting piece too that we’re forgetting to mention. We’re certainly not in any hurry, but at the end of the day, we’re going to do our due diligence like we always have over the course of the last six years.”
  • Over at his Substack, Steve Lichtenstein explores why forward Trendon Watford has the potential to be a solid developmental piece for Brooklyn. Watford is on a non-guaranteed contract with the Nets.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Sykes, Claxton

Ben Simmons made some interesting comments about his current teammates and perhaps took a veiled swipe at former ones during an interview with FOX5’s Tina Cervasio (hat tip to

Simmons indicated that he’s looking forward to blending in with “team-first” players. He was asked about what excites him about playing with Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and his other teammates.

“Just playing with guys who are just easy to play with, that just have one goal and that’s to win. I don’t think guys have too many individual goals. I think the team is going to come first,” he said.

He also acknowledged he needs to do his share after appearing in just 42 games since he was acquired from Philadelphia during the 2021/22 season.

“I owe it to everybody, the fans and everybody, to get back to where I need to be. That’s what I did this summer — to get back,” he said.

We have more on the Nets:

  • The Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s NBA G League affiliate, made a roster move on Monday, according to the G League club (Twitter link). They acquired the returning player rights to guard Keifer Sykes from the Motor City Cruise, the Pistons’ affiliate, in exchange for the returning player rights to Treveon Graham and a first-round pick in the 2024 NBA G League draft. Sykes appeared in 33 games for the Cruise last season and averaged 15.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game while shooting 42.4% from the field. Sykes played 32 games, including 11 starts, for the Pacers during the 2021/22 season. He could add backcourt depth if injuries strike and the Nets open up a roster spot.
  • In another story, Lucas Kaplan and Ben Pfeifer share a film breakdown of Nic Claxton, examining his growth and what he could bring to the team for the future. Kapan believes Claxton can develop into a very good offensive player as the young big man heads toward unrestricted free agency next summer. He won’t become extension-eligible before reaching the open market.
  • Steve Kerr was impressed by the maturity of Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson during the World Cup. Get the details here.

Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie Talks Offseason, Nic Claxton, More

In a podcast appearance with Dylan Burris of NetsPress, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie admitted there is a level of uncertainty surrounding Brooklyn and the league as a whole until the Damian Lillard and James Harden situations are resolved. The Nets have been cited as a possible Tyler Herro suitor in three-team scenarios with Portland and Miami.

Obviously, the offseason isn’t over,” said Dinwiddie. “I know the entire league is in a holding pattern for Dame and James. It could affect what we have going on.”

When asked if he knew anything about the Nets’ interest in possible trades, Dinwiddie said that information was “certainly above my pay grade.”

Assuming the roster remains intact, the 30-year-old expects 2023/24 to be a “building” year, as relays.

If we do have this team, which it looks like we will, it’s going to another year of coalescing, building,” Dinwiddie told Burris. “Mikal (Bridges) will try to establish himself as possibly an All-Star, a first time All-Star. I think Nic (Claxton) is going to try to establish himself as one of the premier big men in the league especially being in a contract year and heading into free agency next year.

Cam (Johnson), I think, has more ball skills than people kind of expected. So I think you’ll see him play extremely well. I think him being comfortable signing his deal, being comfortable and stuff, you’ll see a little bit of a leap there. For Cam, Mikal and Dorian (Finney-Smith), I don’t think any of them had been in another system.

We’re going to be a group that gets up and down and hopefully, we have a healthy Ben (Simmons) and if he’s in All-Star form, you might have two All-Stars. If he’s there, we have a real puncher’s chance against anybody.”

According to NetsDaily, Dinwiddie praised Simmons as a teammate and said he was encouraged by his recovery from back and knee injuries, though he didn’t know the specifics.

As Dinwiddie noted, starting center Claxton is on an expiring $9.6MM contract, and the former No. 31 overall pick is coming off a breakout fourth season, having averaged 12.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.5 blocks in 76 games (29.9 minutes) in ’22/23. Dinwiddie said his teammate has made strides in multiple areas this offseason, including his touch around the rim, strength, balance and conditioning.

I think Nic is going to make the biggest jump,” said Dinwiddie, who is also entering the final year of his deal. “I think he’s going to be supremely motivated. I think we’re going to see a big-time year from him.”

Dinwiddie also said he was a “fan” of the team’s offseason moves to this point, per NetsDaily, specifically mentioning free agent additions Dennis Smith Jr. and Lonnie Walker and second-round pick Jalen Wilson, who is on a two-way contract.

Nets Notes: Whitehead, Claxton, Wilson, Schedule

Dariq Whitehead‘s appearance at the Nets’ Plaza Party on Sunday provided another reason for optimism that he’ll be ready when training camp opens, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The first-round pick out of Duke underwent a second surgery on his right foot this summer, but Lewis states that he was able to walk without a limp or a boot. While Whitehead didn’t provide any specifics about the operation or his projected return, he indicated that he’s making progress.

“Rehab is going great. Foot feeling good. Definitely not trying to give it a definite timetable right now, just trying to take it day by day,” Whitehead said. “But everything’s feeling good, and just looking forward to approaching the season, getting back to 100 percent.” 

Whitehead was the second-ranked high school player in the nation and was hoping to be a top-five pick in the draft. But issues with his foot disrupted his college career and caused him to slip to No. 22. The surgery prevented Whitehead from playing in Summer League, so he’s eager to get started with preparations for his rookie season.

“When you’re injured, you always have that urge to want to get out there and be out there on the court with the guys,” Whitehead said. “But that’s something coach Jacque (Vaughn) has preached to me since the first day I stepped in the door, about it’s a marathon not a (sprint) race.  So just knowing that I’ve got to be patient and take my time with it, and hearing that come from him, makes it a little more assuring that, all right, just take my time, get back to where I need to be, and everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.” 

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets need Nic Claxton to expand his game this season, even though it could raise his asking price when he becomes a free agent next summer, Lewis adds in another Post story. Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype told Lewis that Claxton is already in position to land a contract similar to Jakob Poeltl, who got $78MM over four years from the Raptors.
  • Second-round pick Jalen Wilson tells Ian Begley of that spending four years in college made him more ready for the NBA than he would have been if he had left early. “I know I’m a rookie but being 22, about to be 23 years old, I feel like I’m mature enough to be able to share my experiences and understand that when you have a culture, you have a foundation that you can do anything (from),” Wilson said. “Me being able to present that and being able to execute it on and off the floor, I feel like that’s an advantage I have.”
  • With the Big Three era over, the Nets only have 11 nationally televised games this season, with six of those on NBA TV, Lewis observes in an overview of the schedule. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who both asked to be traded in February, will return to the Barclays Center in the same week, with the Suns visiting on January 31 and the Mavericks following on February 6.

Nets Notes: Smith Jr., Core Group, Wilson, Simmons, Johnson

After signing a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with the Nets, Dennis Smith Jr. is prepared to accept whatever role he’s given, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. The 2017 lottery pick will be playing for his sixth NBA team next season.

“I’m going to have to come in and earn my minutes like everybody else. That’s on par with my brand. Ain’t nothing been given to me. So I’m looking forward to that,” he said.

We have more on the Nets:

  • The roster moves the Nets have made this offseason better define their core players, Lewis relays. Coach Jacque Vaughn has several players entering their prime years that he’s counting on.Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges, Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, those are the 24-to-27-year-old range for us who are going to be able to grow together, define the culture,” Vaughn told NBA TV. “It’s a relentless culture is what we want: To be relentless teammates, be relentless competitors. So they’ll get a chance to define the culture going forward.”
  • Jalen Wilson, who signed a two-way contract last week, could develop into a 3-and-D factor. Wilson helped lead Kansas to a national title in 2022. “Jalen is just physical,” Nets Summer League coach Trevor Hendry told Lewis. “His ability to guard different positions and make catch-and-shoot 3s is something that he’s done at a pretty high clip.”
  • Ben Simmons won’t play for Australia in the FIBA World Cup this summer as he continues his lengthy rehab. Simmons hasn’t been scrimmaging but GM Sean Marks says Simmons is making progress from his back injury, Lewis tweets. “He’s not doing 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 yet. I was down there two weeks ago with him and the training staff and saw the progress,” Marks said. “Happy to report he’s in a great physical shape and also mentally. He’s rearing and champing at the bit to get out there.”
  • Cameron Johnson‘s new four-year contract, which has decreasing salaries during the second and third years, will increase the front office’s flexibility during the rebuilding process, Lewis notes.

Nets Notes: Lillard, Bates, Vinson, Coaching Staff

The Nets have “genuine interest” in acquiring Damian Lillard if he asks the Trail Blazers for a trade, sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscription required). During an appearance this week on Showtime’s “The Last Stand,” Lillard named Brooklyn and Miami as his preferred destinations, citing the Nets because of his friendship with Mikal Bridges.

Appearing Thursday on The Dan Patrick Show, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT indicated that any trade speculation involving Lillard should be limited to those two teams, adding that Brooklyn may rank first on Lillard’s list. Haynes also believes the Blazers would try to honor Lillard’s wishes because of his long tenure with the franchise.

“If it gets to that point, they would consult with Dame because, you know, Dame’s been there 10 years, been a model citizen representing that city, in that organization, with class, all throughout,” Haynes said. “I think they will try to get him where he wants to go; in the East, that is, I do not see and envision a possibility that he would be traded to a Western Conference team.”

Zach Harper of The Athletic suggests that the Nets may be able to acquire Lillard without giving up Bridges or center Nic Claxton. Harper envisions a deal built around the expiring contracts of Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, along with several of the draft picks Brooklyn accumulated by trading away James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets are typically secretive about their workouts, but Emoni Bates is among the potential second-rounders the team has hosted over the past few weeks, Lewis adds. Bates was once the top-ranked recruit in the nation, but he’s been disappointing through two seasons at Memphis and Eastern Michigan. Lewis notes that Bates has been working out for several teams to try to change his reputation. Brooklyn holds the 51st pick, along with a pair of first-rounders.
  • Corey Vinson, who worked with Bridges in Phoenix, has joined the Nets as an assistant coach for player development, according to a Nets Daily article. He becomes the seventh assistant on Jacque Vaughn‘s staff.
  • Brooklyn has seen a lot of coaching turnover since Vaughn replaced Steve Nash in November, Lewis writes in another New York Post story. The organization has shifted its focus from winning with a team of star players to trying to develop young talent.

NBA Announces 2022/23 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2022/23 season.

A total of 100 media members vote on the All-Defensive awards, with players receiving two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote. This year’s All-Defensive teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Unsurprisingly, Jackson – who was this season’s Defensive Player of the Year – received the most First Team votes (96) and showed up on the most overall ballots (99). Only one voter didn’t have Jackson on either All-Defensive team.

Milwaukee teammates Holiday (94) and Lopez (85) received the second- and third-most First Team votes. No other player earned more than 50.

While the Bucks have two players on the First Team, it’s a bit surprising to see former DPOY Giannis Antetokounmpo miss out altogether. Antetokounmpo earned 16 First Team votes and 28 Second Team votes for a total of 60 points, the most of any player who didn’t earn All-Defensive honors. Although he received more total points than Brooks or Adebayo, Giannis didn’t make the cut because there were four forwards with more points than him.

Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels (40 points), Celtics guard Marcus Smart (35), Nets guard Mikal Bridges (33), and Nets center Nic Claxton (25) would have joined Antetokounmpo on a hypothetical All-Defensive Third Team as the highest vote-getters who fell just short.

A total of 38 players showed up on at least one ballot — the full voting results can be viewed here.

Being named to an All-Defensive team will benefit a pair of players financially, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). White earned a $250K bonus for his Second Team nod, while Holiday will receive $129,600 for making the First Team.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Claxton, Brogdon, Raptors

While the Sixers were able to hold on and win Game 3 without him, James Harden was fuming after the game about the flagrant foul 2 and ejection he was given near the end of the third quarter on Thursday (Twitter video link).

As Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes, the game’s referees ruled that Harden made “excessive” contact to Royce O’Neale‘s groin while trying to create space against the Nets defender. The Sixers star referred to the decision as “unacceptable” and said he didn’t get an explanation from the officials during the game.

“First time I’ve been ejected. I’m not labeled as a dirty player, and I didn’t hit him in a private area. Somebody is draped on you like that defensively, that’s a natural basketball reaction,” Harden said. “I didn’t hit him hard enough for him to fall down like that. But for a flagrant 2, it’s unacceptable. This is a playoff game. We’ve seen around the league, things are much worse than what that play was. Honestly, I didn’t think it was a foul on me. But that’s unacceptable. It can’t happen.”

While Harden was ejected, his Sixers teammate Joel Embiid avoided a similar fate early in the first quarter. After falling to the floor, Embiid kicked Nets center Nic Claxton when Claxton tried to step over him (Twitter video link). The star center was assessed a flagrant foul 1, but was permitted to remain in the game, much to the chagrin of Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in my career before,” Vaughn said. “For a guy to intentionally kick someone in an area that none of us want to be kicked at or towards, for him to continue to play, I’ve never seen that before in a game and a guy continues to play. Intentional.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Claxton’s energy and fight helped keep the Nets in the game on Thursday, but his exuberance got the better of him when he picked up his second technical for taunting Embiid (Twitter video link) and was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “Yeah, when I watched it, it was a little excessive. I got to keep my emotions in check,” Claxton said after the game. “They need me out there. So that’s part of my growth, just keeping my emotions like that when I’m playing well and my emotions are really high. I got to look myself in the mirror and just be smarter in those situations.”
  • Shortly after arriving in Boston last summer, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon stressed that he was focused on team – rather than individual – success. He reiterated that message earlier this week, just a couple days before being named the NBA’s Sixth Man of The Year, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “All these awards are team awards,” Brogdon said when asked about the possibility of earning Sixth Man of The Year honors. “It takes a team for anybody to get an award because there’s always five guys on the floor. It would be great for the organization, the Celtics, to have me win the award.”
  • Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri will hold his end-of-season media session on Friday, over a week after the team’s season came to an end. Michael Grange of wonders if Ujiri may have delayed his usual spring presser a little this year in the hopes of gaining more clarity on the team’s coaching situation.

Nets Notes: Bridges, Dragic, Claxton, Thomas

The Kevin Durant deal that shook up the NBA on the eve of the trade deadline never would have happened if the Suns hadn’t included Mikal Bridges, Nets general manager Sean Marks tells Nick Friedell of ESPN.

Marks had come to the realization that it was time to end the super-team experiment in Brooklyn that brought together Durant, Kyrie Irving and eventually James Harden. Durant was the last of the trio to be moved, and Marks wanted to create the foundation of a young team that could remain competitive while building for the future. The centerpiece of that was Bridges, who has become a star in Brooklyn, averaging 26.1 PPG in 27 games since the trade.

“We knew the end of an era was upon us,” Marks said. “When Kyrie had already moved, the discussions with Phoenix heated up and it became real, like, ‘All right, well, there’s a shift happening here, right? Are we resetting, retooling, rebuilding?’ We were able to come to terms with that knowing that the package we were getting back in return was something that has a clear pathway.

“We’ve never sort of had a group of young guys before that were under contract, proven, healthy and you can see a pathway of, ‘Hey, I can see what this may look like in two, three years from now.’ … Not just Mikal, but all of them, where do they all take their games to? Who’s the next person that takes that leap?”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Veteran guard Goran Dragic is the latest player to indicate that there was significant behind-the-scenes turmoil with the Nets, per Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Dragic, who finished last season in Brooklyn, said he had an offer to stay but he chose to sign with the Bulls to get away from the drama. “I could have re-signed with Brooklyn, but I didn’t want to be in that situation, because it was a little bit crazy,” Dragic said. “I just tried to find a team that’s calmer and to be more stable. I thought that would be with Chicago.”
  • Facing Joel Embiid is a difficult matchup for Nic Claxton, so coach Jacque Vaughn wants him to use his speed to his advantage, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Claxton needs to find a way to get some easy baskets after being held scoreless Monday.
  • Vaughn wouldn’t commit to playing Cam Thomas in Game 3, Lewis tweets. The second-year guard wasn’t used at all in Game 2 after seeing four minutes in the series opener. “It’s always at the disposal of someone not getting minutes, and so who is that?” Vaughn asked. “Is that Spencer (Dinwiddie)? Is that Cam Johnson? Is that Mikal Bridges? Everyone is available to play it and in the wheelhouse to be prepared if their number is called.”

New York Notes: Toppin, Barrett, Claxton, Bridges, Simmons

Obi Toppin, who started in place of injured Julius Randle on Friday, had a heated exchange with RJ Barrett during the Knicks’ win over the Cavaliers on Friday night. However, the Knicks downplayed the incident afterward, Peter Botte of the New York Post reports.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau and his assistants had to keep Toppin away from Barrett during a third-quarter timeout. Toppin and Barrett hugged on the court shortly afterward.

“We’re brothers. And we’re good. We discussed it,” Toppin said.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • Nic Claxton signed a two-year, $17.25MM contract as a restricted free agent last summer. That contract is proving to be a bargain, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Claxton has started 72 games and leads the Nets in blocks and rebounds. Claxton hopes he remains with the franchise beyond next season. “It’s human nature. It’s just in our business, you never really know what’s going to happen as far as trades, contracts and everything,” Claxton said. “But I’ve been here four years, and Brooklyn has been a huge [time], played a huge role in my growth. And I would love to be here.”
  • Nets forward Mikal Bridges is on track to play 83 regular season games this season,  something that hasn’t been done since Josh Smith played that many games for Houston and Detroit in 2014/15, Nick Friedell of ESPN notes. Nets GM Sean Marks is impressed by Bridges’ durability during a time when players are frequently rested. “You look at how he plays the game,” Marks said. “Obviously, when he was playing in Phoenix, even dating back to college days, the length, the reliability — he’s nearing 400 games played in a row, it’s pretty unique in this day and age. And for somebody who actually wants to play at that clip is also certainly refreshing.”
  • With Ben Simmons declared out for the season by the Nets, Lewis interviewed a number of medical experts and Simmons’ agent to determine whether he’ll be healthier next season (New York Post subscription required). Lewis also explored the question of whether Simmons might require surgery to resolve his back and knee issues.