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Nets Rumors: Nic Claxton Was Nearly Traded to Raptors for 1st-Round Pick at Deadline

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 16, 2022

Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets pursued a trade with the Toronto Raptors that would've sent Nic Claxton north of the border, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe.

Lowe reported on his Lowe Post podcast (via RealGM) the two teams were "very close to a deal," with Brooklyn receiving a protected first-round pick.

The Nets acquired Andre Drummond from the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the James Harden/Ben Simmons swap. Head coach Steve Nash can also throw out LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Day'Ron Sharpe at the 5.

Chris Milholen @CMilholenSB

When asked why Nic Claxton didn’t see minutes tonight, Steve Nash noted it was due to depth. <br><br>“We have five centers. It’s very hard for them all to play. He’s got to be patient and see how we go here.”

Through 25 games this year, Claxton is averaging 9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. During Brooklyn's postseason run last year, he was effective inside, putting up 11.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per 100 possessions, according to Basketball Reference

But the Nets' depth at center made him a bit expendable given the franchise's aims. In the event general manager Sean Marks wanted to continue dealing ahead of the deadline, the 6'11" big man was a natural trade asset.

Whether this season or in the summer, the first-rounder from the Raptors could've been leveraged to address another area of the floor. Lowe speculated Brooklyn might have wanted to land a wing or a proven shooter, throwing out Robert Covington as a possible target.

Instead, Claxton will remain with the Nets for the remainder of this year and heads into the summer as a bit of a wild card given he's eligible for restricted free agency.

Brooklyn is on pace to have an estimated luxury tax bill of $18.8 million with nine players under contract for a combined $158 million, per Spotrac.

Claxton might be looking for a new team on which he'd have a more clearly defined role, and it's not hard to envision a GM making an aggressive play to bet on the 22-year-old's upside. 

In the event Claxton is in a different uniform next year, Marks might rue failing to cash in on his trade value.

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