The Brooklyn Nets might be gauging Nic Claxton's value ahead of the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline.
"There's been some chatter through a couple of teams that I talked to that the Nets have dipped their toe into the trade market for Nic Claxton," ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported at the 12:16 mark in the most recent episode of his Hoop Collective podcast. "In other words, maybe thinking about trading him."
The 22-year-old has averaged 9.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks this season. He has played well in a reserve role over his three years with Brooklyn so far.
Windhorst said the decision to trade Claxton would likely be made because of the harsh financial realities of the NBA.
Excluding David Duke Jr. and Kessler Edwards, who are on two-way contracts, Brooklyn has 10 players who might be coming off the books. Claxton is among that group and eligible to become a restricted free agent.
Assuming the Nets re-sign Kyrie Irving and James Harden, who have player options for 2022-23, retaining the rest of the supporting cast will be a costly pursuit. And with Claxton, the true cost will likely exceed whatever the terms of his contract would be.
For example, The Athletic's Bill Oram explained how the Los Angeles Lakers keeping Alex Caruso at $7 million annually would've tacked on $17.5 million in luxury tax money. As a result, Los Angeles watched Caruso sign with the Chicago Bulls.
Jarrett Allen has thrived as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and is more than earning his five-year, $100 million extension. Some will argue the Nets should avoid making the same mistake they did when trading Allen and make every attempt to hold on to Claxton.
But even franchises in major markets draw a line in the sand at some point, as the Lakers did with Caruso. The payroll costs become too much to sustain.
When the rubber meets the road, the Nets will likely face a difficult dilemma as to Claxton's future.