Brooklyn Nets Free Agent Decision Represents Larger Message

Nic Claxton's future with the organization will tell fans what direction they plan to go.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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Despite relentless attempts from the Houston Rockets, the Brooklyn Nets have made it clear Mikal Bridges is not available. Hopeful that Bridges will lure another star to Brooklyn, the Nets have shown no signs of blowing things up and starting over. They want to win as soon as possible.

One overlooked storyline amid the Bridges drama is the Nets' plans for Nic Claxton. The 25-year-old big man is slated for free agency, and could command up to $25 million from a contender. Is Claxton worth that much? His 11.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last season would surely be missed, but up-and-comer Day'Ron Sharpe is poised to take his spot should he leave for more money.

General manager Sean Marks' decision on whether to pay Claxton or not will tell Nets fans all they need to know about just how serious the organization is regarding their desire to "win now." If they go all-in on Claxton, there may not be a drop in overall production next season, but his contract takes a massive slice of Brooklyn's salary cap pie.

That co-star the Nets are searching for to pair with Bridges will have to come at a premium, yet fair price with so much money being tied up in their center. The pieces around a trio of Bridges, Claxton and whoever Brooklyn brings in would also have to be on high-value deals, something that is far from guaranteed.

The Nets are in a tricky spot. While losing Claxton would be a tough pill to swallow, it may benefit the franchise more in the long run to let him walk. The front office's decision on his future will establish their future plans far more than any Joe Tsai quote could.

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Kyler Fox