After Kyrie Irving, Nic Claxton is the free agent the Nets most need to return. He was their starting 5 at the end of the season and into the first round. And except for his miserable free throw shooting, particularly that 1-of-11 showing in Game 4, he was more than serviceable in that role. Moreover, he’s only 23 and a long-term asset.
But Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale, in assessing the 10 players most in need of a change of scenery, wrote this weekend about how Claxton needs to be “rescued” from Brooklyn, arguing that the Nets will never develop him to his full potential.
Smart teams with huge chunks of minutes available at center should be looking to rescue Nic Claxton from a Brooklyn Nets squad that has failed to make him the rotation constant he deserves to be…
While noting that Nash relied more and more on Claxton as the season and post-season wore on, Favale said there’s a lot more to Claxton than the Nets have explored.
That’s still not good enough. Claxton should be on a team that has the stomach for development. The Nets will not be that team so long as they’re attempting to contend. And while Claxton remains their best option at center, bar none, Brooklyn’s roster isn’t conducive to guaranteeing him minutes.
Moreover, Favale wrote the addition of Ben Simmons could make Claxton’s role even smaller.
A healthy Ben Simmons ensures the Nets will always have one non-shooter on the floor. That number mushrooms to two if they re-sign Bruce Brown (unrestricted) and his 40.4 percent clip from three this season proves to be an anomaly. Brooklyn will occasionally, if not frequently, find itself needing to favor frontcourt setups that feature a floor-spacer at the 5th
There have been some in the Nets organization who have either implied or outright said Claxton’s potential is great particularly on offense … but some in that camp also wonder about his durability … and commitment.
His supporters point to the last game Claxton played for the G League Long Island Nets on March 20. He was the fulcrum of the offense. Here’s some highlights of his 34-point effort, including everything from 3-point shooting to Euro-steps.
Small sample — nine games — and it was the G League, not the NBA, but Claxton’s shooting splits were 66/56/76. Not a typo. As Favale wrote…
He has more offensive depth to explore—including a baby hook shot—but not a big-time jumper. Brooklyn will want him back anyway. His five-position switchability is legit. But sticking around with an organization that can assure neither consistent nor optimal usage isn’t what’s best for him.
Favale thinks the best fits for Claxton outside Brooklyn would be Charlotte, Dallas or Oklahoma City.
On the opposite side of the ledger, Favale thinks that Isaiah Hartenstein, the 24-year-old Clipper back-up center, would find his best fit in Brooklyn. Indeed, last summer, there were reports that Hartenstein and the Nets had mutual interest.
Hartenstein’s responsibility will be forever capped with LA, even if it decides to prioritize him over (Ivica) Zubac (2023 free agent).
Other suitors should be offering Hartenstein more money to boot. The 24-year-old is a non-Bird free agent, so the Clippers cannot give him more than the mini mid-level exception ($6.4 million). And that’s assuming they’re prepared to hand him all of it. They may not want to burn it all on a big when they have a clear but overblown need for a floor general.
Favale thinks the competition for Hartenstein could be Dallas and Philadelphia