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Nic Claxton: ‘I’m in a great situation’

Barring something unexpected Sunday afternoon, Nic Claxton will end the 2023-2024 season averaging 12 points, 10 boards and two blocks. It will be the first time he’ll average a double-double in his five-year NBA career. It also makes for a shiny entry on his free agency resume’ that he’ll no doubt be sharing with prospective suitors come July.

Claxton likes where he’s at, with the Brooklyn Nets, but also as unrestricted free agent. So far, both he and Sean Marks have said all the right things about bringing him back, at least publicly, but money talks.

Since the Nets have Claxton Bird Rights they can go above the cap to sign him, but if he had been unrestricted the Nets would have been able to match any offers for the near 7-footer who’s gone from the second round to being in the conversation for the NBA’s All-Defensive Team.

“I feel great. I’m in a great situation. These past couple of years have been really good. I somewhat gambled on myself with a shorter contract, and it’s all paying off “ Claxton told Mike Scotto of Hoopshype. It’s a little ambiguous but it seems like Claxton likes where he is sitting in July’s free agent market rather than the borough of Brooklyn.

According to various reports, Claxton is expected to get offers of up to $20 to $25 million, matching perhaps the deal he predecessor in Brooklyn’s paint, Jarrett Allen, got from Cleveland after he was traded from the Nets in 2021, meaning $100 million.

There are of course differences between the two: Allen is more cerebral, more of an offensive piece while Claxton is increasingly aggressive, more of defender. (Years ago, a Nets insider referred to Allen as a player who relies on repetition, Claxton’s on instinct.)

Scotto asked Claxton what he’s looking for beyond money.

“Winning. Being a playoff team and winning games,” responded Claxton.

Claxton was equally taciturn about how he feels about the team this year … and what he’d like to see.

“It was definitely an up and more down year. It was frustrating, but a lot of people learned a lot about themselves. We know that you just don’t want to repeat a year like this,” said Claxton.

When Scotto asked what how he sees the the core of the Nets going in next season. Claxton turned the question to his own future.

“I don’t know. We’ve got two more games left. I’ve got a pretty long offseason ahead to talk about that with my agents and my family. I’ll figure that out.”

He also said that rebounding had been his biggest improvement this season.

“I’d say pushing the ball a lot more on rebounds and being a better overall rebounder. I made a jump rebounding the ball.”

And what he want to do to improve his game.

“I want to work on shooting and continuing to get stronger. I want to keep learning and figuring out ways to expand my game,” he told Scotto

The Memphis Grizzlies have been one organization rumored to be interested in Claxton, based in part of his friendship with Ja Morant.

While Claxton said little definitive about his future as a Net, he told Brian Lewis that he believes he and Noah Clowney can take a next step.

“Something for us to build off,” said Claxton, said of the combo. “We’ve got to just keep building up everybody’s confidence, building up our confidence playing together, and it’ll be good for the future.”

As Lewis notes, the duo is putting up big numbers in limited minutes.

That duo had the best net rating of any Nets two-man combo (minimum 50 minutes played together) going into Friday night — they were at plus-22.8 with an offensive rating of 115.0 and a stellar defensive rating of 92.1 — and the fact they combined for 12 blocks Wednesday night underscored that.

Whether that combination will keep him in Brooklyn remains unknown so far.

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