The Brooklyn Nets have several key free agents set to hit the open market on July 1, which will shape what their roster will look like in the 2023 season. A key free agent will be her big man Nicolas Claxton, who had another solid season in 2023. According to Basketball Reference, Claxton had career highs in points, rebounds and field goal percentage during the 2022 season. He’s increased those averages in each of his first three seasons.
At 23, Claxton has plenty of raw talent but still needs to make significant progress to be a consistent starting center. And as a team in win-now mode, the Nets have limited money to spend on him. After selling their starting center Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks in June, the Houston Rockets are one of the teams that could pursue Claxton in free hands, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen. The Rockets currently have the second pick in this year’s NBA draft.
“Although the Rockets traded Wood because he no longer fit the remodel and to earn a first-round pick, the Rockets are considering keeping Marjanovic as one of the center options they are considering. They are not expected to keep other players included in the deal – Marquese Chriss, Sterling Brown and Trey Burke,” Feigen writes.
“The free-agent rank at center is considered unusually deep with players that could be available to teams, including the Rockets, who are above the cap but can provide the full mid-level exception, starting at US$10.5 million -Dollar. The Nets are seen as unlikely to match a mid-level offer to Nic Claxton.
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NBA GM: Bulls could be contenders for Claxton
Claxton’s youth and upward trend could mean he has multiple suitors when free agency officially kicks off on July 1. An Eastern Conference general manager told Heavy’s Sean Deveney that the Chicago Bulls may also be interested in signing Claxton.
“The cops will push for a big man. They might give (Nikola) Vucevic another year, but it was obvious he was a weak link for them,” the general manager told Deveney.
“They need defense on the fringe, so you hear they’re interested in Mitchell Robinson and Claxton, guys like that. Claxton is limited, but if they make a full mid-level bid if they go four years and about $45 million, they could make it difficult for the Nets to match.”
Nets face tough decision with Claxton
The Nets will have a difficult decision to make with Claxton. While he could pay big dividends going forward, the Nets have reiterated that they’re looking to get the franchise its first title sooner rather than later. With a specific goal in mind, spending big bucks on a center that’s not consistently playable in the postseason might not be the wisest decision for Sean Marks and the Nets front office.
Parting ways with Claxton would certainly be a big loss for the Nets, but it wouldn’t be all bad. Some of the available space could be used to hold other free agents who made bigger contributions to the Nets last season, like Bruce Brown and Andre Drummond.
The Nets have a lot of tough decisions to make this summer. This off-season could be the most important in franchise history.
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