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Sean Marks Talks Nic Claxton, Jaylen Hands ... and Free Agency

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Brooklyn selected Georgia big man Nic Claxton and UCLA point guard Jaylen Hands Thursday night at Barclays Center ... and Sean Marks pronounced himself excited on Friday morning.

Marks spoke to the media at the HSS Training Center at around 12:45 a.m. and after making several moves, starting with trading the 27th pick to the Clippers for the Sixers 2020 first rounder and L.A.’s 56th pick in this year’s draft.

After trading out of the first round, the Nets chose the 6’11’’ Claxton with the 31st pick which they had acquired in December 2017. At just 20 years of age, Claxton averaged 13 points and 8.6 rebounds along with 2.5 blocks and 1.1 steals per game as a sophomore last season. Most mock drafts had him in the late teens or early 20’s.

Asked how Claxton might fit in with the Nets, Sean Marks talked first about Claxton’s character.

“We enjoyed watching him throughout the year. Thrilled to have him in here, work out in front of our coaching staff. Love the person, loved getting to know him and meet him and look forward to meeting the family tomorrow.

“I think there’s a tremendous amount of upside there with him. The way he moves, the way I think he’ll eventually be able to stretch the floor, the way he can handle the ball already. It’s always nice when you get a guy with that build and hopefully add to that frame.”

In reference to how Claxton might fit next to Allen, Marks was careful not to box Claxton into either front court position at this stage,

“I think Nic is a guy that we’ll let develop and we’ll see where that translates and see where he goes from a development standpoint. I’d hate to pigeonhole him.”

Regarding the decision to trade out of the first round, he agreed it improved flexibility for this summer’s free agency. The decision to take a bit of a risk —dumping a caphold and hoping their guy would still be there in the second round— was driven by that desire to be flexible.

“I think this gave us an opportunity, maybe a little bit of a gamble, but a calculated risk that we knew we could probably get our guy that we wanted (Claxton) and we’re ecstatic to have Nic join the team and then also delay that first round pick another year and then pick up a second round pick as well.”

By getting that first in the 2020 Draft, the Nets replaced one of the two picks they sent out in the Allen Crabbe deal. Brooklyn sent their first rounder in this year’s draft as well as a lottery protected first in 2020 to Atlanta for Taurean Prince and a 2021 second rounder.

The big value of the trade, however, was that it boosted the Nets cap space this summer to as much as $68.67 million, according to capologists. Thats just $1.28 million shy of the max needed to sign both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – their presumed “dream” scenario. (Adrian Wojnarowski said Thursday that the Nets may also get a meeting with Kawhi Leonard as well. )

With that 56th pick, acquired from the Clippers, the Nets chose Hands out of UCLA. On the 6’3” combo guard, Marks said he was “intrigued” about Hands’ prospects.

“Jaylen’s an explosive young guard. I’m very intrigued by him, so it will be interesting to see him and get up close and personal, get to know him, and see where he goes from there.”

Hands should figure into the Nets backcourt mix next season with the return of D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier, and even Theo Pinson very much up in the air.

Marks did admit that the organization had a number of trade discussions throughout the night,

“There’s always a lot of things on our board. I think tonight there was a lot of things for us to look at. It certainly helps when you have the 31st pick, which gets a fair bit of action, a fair bit of calls on it.”

The Nets ultimately had a successful night by bringing in two intriguing young players, picking up a first rounder and of course improving their flexibility for the all important summer ahead.

For most Nets fans, the draft this year was just a milestone on the way to free agency. Asked if the Nets are finally at the point where they can take a leap without it being considered that they “skipped steps,” Marks was non-committal,

“I definitely don’t think it’s skipping steps now. You have a group of young guys coming up that have proved to the league that they’re NBA players.”

Marks also displayed confidence in the organization’s standing among free agents this summer.

“A team like Brooklyn, when they look at us from afar, I think we got to give them some credit because the guys that are free agents, all of them, I would assume have spent the last year or two surveying the league. They know where they want to go, they know what they want to be a part of. I think our young guys have done a nice job to put themselves in that position.”

Next up free agency – only nine days away. Buckle up! It’s going to be one wild ride.