Nic Claxton

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.

Nets Notes: Noel, Simmons, Duke, Smith, Ayton

With Spencer Dinwiddie (rest), Nic Claxton (right thumb sprain, left Achilles tendinopathy), Cameron Johnson (right knee soreness), and Royce O’Neale (left knee soreness) all unavailable in Milwaukee on Thursday, the Nets ran out a new-look starting lineup that scored just 15 total points, the lowest mark for any starting five since 2008, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link).

One of Brooklyn’s new starter was Nerlens Noel, who was playing in just his second game as a Net. Despite not scoring a single point, Noel was the only starter who had a plus/minus rating better than minus-14 (he was a plus-2) and made a positive impression on head coach Jacque Vaughn, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays.

“He continues to get himself in shape,” Vaughn said. “The charge that he took was great, putting his body on the line, so that was great. A (blocked shot) was great. So those things we want to continue to see from him.”

Noel’s contract with the Nets only covers 10 days, but so far he hasn’t been used like a player the team plans to soon part ways with, logging 18 minutes in consecutive games. Vaughn’s postgame comments also hinted that he expects the big man to be in Brooklyn for more than just 10 days.

“He’ll continue to learn conceptually what we want to do on the defensive end, and we’re switching back and forth between defenses, you know, so you got to turn your brain on and off and back on again,” Vaughn said of Noel. “So that challenge is what’s ahead of him.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Ben Simmons, still dealing with knee and back issues, missed his eighth game in a row on Thursday, and Vaughn said Simmons’ back inflammation remains “in the process of settling down,” per Lewis. “A big piece of it is still the strengthening, to make sure that there’s no reoccurrence,” Vaughn said. “And then for a while we had to kind of press pause a little bit in order for the inflammation in the back to kind of settle down a little bit. So last few days, that’s what that’s look like.”
  • Although Brooklyn’s starting five was ineffective on Thursday, the team showed off its depth, scoring 98 bench points. That total was the highest in a regular season game since at least 1982, according to Reynolds, who notes (via Twitter) that Toronto scored 100 bench points vs. Brooklyn in a playoff game in 2020.
  • Nets two-way players David Duke and Dru Smith got a rare chance to play rotation minutes at the NBA level on Thursday and combined for 30 points. Duke and Smith have spent much of the season playing key roles for a Long Island Nets team that won its 16th straight game on Thursday, led by veteran point guard Chris Chiozza, according to NetsDaily. Brooklyn’s NBAGL affiliate now holds a league-best 22-3 record.
  • Sign-and-trade rules would have made it tricky for the Nets to acquire center Deandre Ayton from Phoenix in a package for Kevin Durant last summer, but Ayton would’ve been much easier to move at last month’s deadline. However, Ayton wasn’t part of the Suns‘ package for Durant and league sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) that Brooklyn was “never much interested” in trading for the former No. 1 pick.

New York Notes: Randle, Brunson, Durant, Bridges, Claxton

Playing in the All-Star Game was the latest sign of a much happier season for Knicks forward Julius Randle, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Randle, who was selected among the Eastern Conference reserves, is in the midst of a strong bounce-back campaign, averaging 24.8 points and 10.8 rebounds through 60 games. He has adapted to a ball-sharing role in New York’s offense that came with the offseason addition of Jalen Brunson.

Randle was also selected for the game in 2021, but he went through a difficult year between his two All-Star appearances. He battled with fans and the media for much of last season and often appeared angry as the Knicks fell short of the playoffs. He credits this year’s turnaround to a visit during the summer from associate head coach Johnnie Bryant.

“One of the biggest things was he was like, you know, just talking about the year before,” Randle said. “And he said something like along the lines of — if you were your teammate and saw you acting the way that you did sometimes, body language, showing frustration, whatever it was, would you want to be your teammate? And I was like, no. I had to look at myself in the mirror and take accountability and get better and learn from it.”

There’s more from New York City:

  • Brunson has solved the Knicks‘ long-standing problem at point guard and should be viewed as the foundation to build a title contender around, contends Ian O’Connor of The New York Post.
  • Kevin Durant‘s emotional response when talking about his time with the Nets could benefit the franchise moving forward, suggests Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. Sanchez notes that players frequently discuss their future at the All-Star Game, just as Durant and Kyrie Irving did before teaming up in Brooklyn. Sanchez believes Durant would give a positive review to anyone who asks about his time with the Nets, adding that the team’s front office didn’t try to create a bidding war because they knew Durant wanted to go to Phoenix.
  • The acquisition of Mikal Bridges in the Durant deal could give the Nets two members of the All-Defensive Team for the first time in franchise history, according to a NetsDaily article. Bridges was runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, and center Nic Claxton has become a dominant rim protector.

New York Notes: Thomas, Claxton, Dinwiddie, Knicks, Reddish

It was just two weeks ago that a report identified Cam Thomas as one of the young players the Nets could dangle in trade talks. Since then, Thomas’ role in Brooklyn has changed in a major way.

Thomas has scored at least 43 points in each of his last three games, totaling 134 points on 42-of-75 (56.0%) shooting in those three contests while knocking down 14-of-25 (56.0%) three-pointers. According to ESPN Stats and Info (Twitter link), the 21-year-old is the youngest player in NBA history to score 40 or more points in three consecutive games.

During an SNY TV appearance (Twitter video link), Ian Begley said he hadn’t gotten the impression prior to Thomas’ scoring binge that the Nets were looking to shop him, and that’s even more true now. If anything, Begley noted, Thomas’ play may result in more potential trade partners inquiring on the second-year guard as a valuable young asset as Brooklyn explores the market for roster upgrades.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Begley also confirmed during his SNY TV appearance that the Raptors are seeking center Nic Claxton as part of any major trade with the Nets. That represents a major “roadblock” in Brooklyn’s efforts to land a player like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, or Fred VanVleet, given what an important role Claxton has played for the team this season, Begley says.
  • Speaking to reporters at an introductory press conference on Tuesday, new Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie stated that he expects to remain with the team through Thursday’s trade deadline, observing that it would be “silly” for Brooklyn to hold the press conference if that wasn’t the plan (Twitter link via Marc J. Spears of Andscape). Brian Lewis of The New York Post passes along a few more of the presser’s notable quotes from Dinwiddie and new Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith.
  • Madison Square Garden Sports president David Hopkinson said on Tuesday that the company would be open to selling minority shares in the Knicks, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Knicks owner James Dolan has been adamant that he has no desire to give up control of the franchise, but with franchise valuations skyrocketing, it sounds like he’s open to the idea of raising capital by giving up a smaller stake.
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News explores the Knicks‘ trade deadline outlook, suggesting that Cam Reddish will be a strong candidate for a buyout if he’s not moved by Thursday afternoon.

Atlantic Rumors: Durant, Nets, Raptors, Claxton, Celtics, Sixers

Now that Kyrie Irving has been dealt, Kevin Durant find himself under the spotlight once again as league observers wait to see if the Nets forward will resubmit the trade request he made last summer.

Asked on Monday about that possibility, head coach Jacque Vaughn said that’s not something he has talked to Durant about and he doesn’t plan to do so. In Vaughn’s view, as long as the Nets can continue to show they’re capable of competing with the best teams in the East, there’s no reason for Durant to seek a change of scenery.

“At the end of the day, Kevin wants to win,” Vaughn said on Monday, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “That’s always been our goal. He wants to win at shootaround, he wants to win any game of the week. That’s why he loves to play and that’s why he wants to play 82 games. That will be our holy grail. We’ll continue to try to put a group out that wins and until there’s something for me to be concerned about, then I’ll carry on business as usual.”

While the Nets added two solid role players in their Irving trade, their championship upside probably took a hit as a result of that deal, so the team has been exploring further roster upgrades, as we detailed on Monday. According to Ian Begley of, before trading Irving, the Nets had also remained in touch with the Hawks about John Collins and had spoken to multiple teams about Joe Harris and Patty Mills.

Although it’s possible Durant could push for a change of scenery again, most people around the NBA don’t expect that to happen this week, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said in a podcast with colleague Brian Windhorst (YouTube link), especially since the Nets’ additions of Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith signaled a desire to continue building a roster around Durant that’s capable of contending — Finney-Smith is a player KD likes and wanted Brooklyn to acquire if the team made a deal with Dallas, Lowe stated.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Following up on reports suggesting that the Nets were talking to the Raptors about Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says Toronto “covets” Brooklyn center Nic Claxton, having also attempted to acquire him at least season’s trade deadline. Ben Simmons and multiple first-round picks have also come up in the Nets’ trade discussions with the Raptors, Scotto adds.
  • The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and Jay King take a look at what could be on tap for the Celtics at the trade deadline, considering whether it’s realistic to expect them to make a play for Durant and noting that a deal for a center remains the team’s most likely move. Weiss and King also examine Grant Williams‘ up-and-down play and conclude it still doesn’t make sense for Boston to trade him, despite a report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer stating that teams are inquiring on Williams.
  • While Daryl Morey is always a good bet to make some sort of move at the trade deadline, the Sixers president of basketball operations tells Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice that he’s not expecting to make a huge splash this week. “I think it’s very unlikely we’re involved in anything big,” Morey said. “It could easily be that we continue to just develop chemistry and then have the group we have. I and (general manager) Elton (Brand) and everyone feels a responsibility in an important year like this to see if we can find anyone who can upgrade the team.”

Kyrie Irving Sitting Out First Game Since Trade Request

In the wake of Friday’s trade request, Kyrie Irving won’t be active for the Nets‘ game tonight against the Wizards, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. Brooklyn has added Irving to its injury report, citing right calf soreness.

In a pre-game session with reporters, coach Jacque Vaughn said Irving didn’t attend the team’s afternoon walkthrough, and he’s not sure if Kyrie plans to show up for the game (Twitter link). Vaughn added that he considers Irving’s status to be day-to-day and doesn’t know when he might play again.

Vaughn reached out to Irving on Friday after the trade request became public, but not to talk about basketball or his future with the team, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link).

“There’s a business side to this thing and there’s a human side to this thing,” Vaughn said. “I elected to touch on the human side and check on him as an individual. I’ll leave the business side to (general manager) Sean (Marks) and that group.”

If Irving has played his last game for Brooklyn, Vaughn faces the challenge of trying to keep the team competitive, especially while Kevin Durant remains sidelined with a right MCL sprain, Lewis adds. Vaughn instructed his players to remain focused on business and shut out the distractions.

“I said to them, we’re not gonna make this weird,” he stated. “We’re here to play, we’re here to do a job, show up and do your job. I said you’ve done the first step of this thing … let’s do the work to get a win tonight.”

There’s more news regarding Irving:

  • Friedell reports that the Nets’ locker room feels “off” after Irving’s decision, but some players expressed support for him (Twitter link). Nic Claxton and Royce O’Neale admitted they were surprised by the trade request, but Claxton dismissed the idea that Irving let the team down. “At the end of the day we’re all our own individuals,” he said.
  • In a full story for the New York Post (subscription required), Lewis examines the organization’s options with Irving and cites a limited market for a trade to be completed before Thursday’s deadline. The Lakers are considered to be the most interested suitor, with one Western Conference general manager telling Lewis, “I think there’s only one team that actually wants him.” Lewis also doesn’t believe it’s out of the question that Irving could eventually re-sign with Brooklyn if he’s not dealt.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic identifies nine teams that might have some interest in trading for Irving, listing the Lakers as the number one option. Hollinger states that a three-team trade may be the most likely outcome and notes that Brooklyn will be asking for players who can help right away, rather than draft picks.
  • Sources tell Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) that the Hawks won’t be among the teams pursuing Irving.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Warren, Marks, Rupert, O’Neale, Claxton

Nets’ Ben Simmons, who is dealing with left knee soreness, is questionable to play Monday against the Lakers, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweetsT.J. Warren, who has a left shin contusion, is listed as doubtful.

Simmons didn’t play in the 122-115 win over the Knicks on Saturday after suffering the injury against Detroit on Thursday. Warren also missed Saturday’s game after playing on Thursday. Both are considered day-to-day.

We have more on the Nets:

  • GM Sean Marks has been traveling far and wide to scout a point guard, Nets Daily relays. Marks has reportedly twice scouted 18-year-old French point guard 6’7” Rayan Rupert, who plays for the New Zealand Breakers. Marks, who watched Rupert play in Australia and New Zealand, was accompanied on the trip by Nets director of player evaluation, B.J. Johnson. Rupert is currently ranked No. 18 on ESPN’s big board of 2023 prospects.
  • They traded with Utah for Royce O’Neale this summer and it’s worked out well, according to another Nets Daily story. He’s leading the team in minutes played while enjoying a career year. “[He’s] a guy that you trust at the end of the game, who’ll take the right shot, who’ll make the right decision at the end of the game, who doesn’t mind playing on both ends of the floor,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “He has the trust of his coaching staff, his teammates and he’s in the right spot.” O’Neale’s $9.5MM contract for next season is only partially guaranteed at $2.5MM but they’re likely to fully guarantee it, considering his value to the team.
  • Nic Claxton is enjoying the intra-city rivalry with the Knicks, especially since his team has won nine straight against them, Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. “It does feel like a rivalry just because you felt the energy in there (Saturday),” he said. “We’re here at Barclays and they had a lot of fans and it was definitely a good atmosphere. But me, I’ve never lost to the Knicks since I’ve been in the league, I don’t think. It’s always fun playing the Knicks.”