Report: Nets expected to match offers for Nic Claxton

Mar 23, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward-center Nic Claxton (33) blocks the shot of Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

While Kyrie Irving’s looming extension is the Brooklyn Nets’ priority, restricted free agent Nic Claxton should be second in the pecking order.

The Nets are pretty thin in the frontcourt, and with limited cap space, they cannot afford to lose Claxton.

The 23-year-old center averaged 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds, and he’s developing into a decent rim protector and a lob threat. But his injury history (limited to 47 games last season) and his free throw woes (58.1 percent) are the biggest drawbacks that are holding Claxton from earning above the midlevel exception from non-luxury teams, which give the Nets some wiggle room to re-sign him.

“He will not get more than a midlevel offer from a team like Charlotte or Chicago, and if that is the case, they’re comfortable matching it. He is restricted. They can match anything another team gives him. He is looking at something like three years, $35 million,” one Eastern Conference general manager told Heavy’s Sean Deveney.

“They are not sold on him as the big guy of the future, but at that number, they’d keep him around and know they can move him in a deal next summer if they have something better in mind. The trouble is, they’ve got a short window here, so they can’t wait for him too long. But Sean (Marks) is a believer in development, and they are not going to give up on him that fast.”

After Claxton, the Nets only have incoming sophomore Day’Ron Sharpe as the lone center under contract next season. Andre Drummond, who came over midseason from the James Harden trade, is expected to return to Philadelphia. His close relationship with Doc Rivers, who is set to return to coach the 76ers, could be the deciding factor if both teams offer the same money.

Ben Simmons could play center on the defensive end for the Nets next season. However, with his status still unclear after his back surgery and ongoing mental health battle, the Nets would better keep Claxton as an insurance and tradable asset down the road.

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