The Toronto Raptors would love nothing more than to twist the knife even further and make the Brooklyn Nets’ disappointing season even tougher to witness by owning them in the first few days of the offseason. Stealing Nic Claxton in free agency would be one heck of an opening salvo.
The Nets are coming unglued amid all sorts of reports about their superstar tandem being broken up. While they would like to keep Claxton, some recent buzz hints at the possibility of the stringy big potentially being allowed to leave in free agency.
According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (who covers a Rockets team that will also have a degree of interest in Claxton), the Nets are unlikely to match a mid-level offer for Claxton. The full MLE this year is slightly over $10 million per season.
The Raptors were reportedly sniffing around Claxton at the trade deadline, and they could renew their interest in the stringy big thanks to Brooklyn’s financial rigidness. After turning Precious Achiuwa into a stud in the second half of the season, the Raptors have the secret stuff to get the most out of Claxton.
Will Nicolas Claxton join the Toronto Raptors?
In 47 games, Claxton averaged 8.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. Claxton was a terrific dunker spot finisher this year, as he connected on 67% of his shots from the field. If you’re that accurate and that effective in limited action, you’re doing something right.
Claxton’s true value lies in his defense, as he is already a proven switchblade who can stick on the perimeter and bother opposing bigs in the paint despite his weight. While not as physically imposing as a player like Precious Achiuwa, Claxton profiles as a talented defender in a similar mold with the right coaching behind him.
Claxton’s frame is likely going to be pretty gaunt no matter what, but he may need to add a few pounds to become a long-term starter. Claxton offered next to nothing as a 3-point shooter, and he’ll need to overcome those issues if he is going to move the needle in a tight Raptors rotation.
Claxton would be perfect as a role player in Brooklyn, but one of the side effects of loading up with all of these stars is that role players have to constantly shift in and out. Toronto would give him the chance to finally be trusted with a heavy, consistent diet of minutes and responsibility in the majors.