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Scotto: Nic Claxton offers positive view of Brooklyn Nets ... and his future: ‘I love it here’

In an extensive interview, Nic Claxton says all the right things about both his team and his free agency in July.

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

In an interview with Mike Scotto of Hoopshype, Nic Claxton offered positive views of his team and his teammates and once again expressed optimism about staying in Brooklyn following this summer’s free agency.

Asked, “What would you look for in free agency?” Claxton responded, “A place where I’m wanted. I’m here now. Hopefully, everything works out with Brooklyn. I love it here.” It’s the second time the five-year veteran talked about his positive feelings toward Brooklyn, offering similar sentiments last April, “I would love to be here.” And Sean Marks has said he hopes Claxton will be a Net for a long time.

Claxton of course is an unrestricted free agent this summer — under the CBA, the Nets can’t extend him before then — with most pundits suggesting he’s in line for a nine-figure deal, most like his predecessor, Jarrett Allen, won with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Scotto spoke to various NBA sources and got this assessment of the 24-year-old big’s financial prospects.

Claxton’s projected salary heading into free agency is $21 million per year, according to 12 NBA executives polled by HoopsHype. Two of the 12 executives believed Claxton could get as high as $27 million annually, four other executives pegged Claxton’s value in the $20-25 million range, and two executives valued Claxton at $20 million annually.

“I could see $25 million per year as an inflation of Jarrett Allen’s deal for Claxton, or I could see Allen’s deal at $20 million annually,” an NBA executive told HoopsHype.

While the Nets will not be able to simply match another team’s offer, they can exceed the salary cap in signing him. They have no restrictions in signing him since they control his Bird Rights. The issue is that the Nets desperately want to avoid going over the luxury tax threshold this season and next to avoid both the repeater tax and new CBA sanctions for big spending teams in 2025, the next big summer of free agency.

Brooklyn currently has three rotation players who’ll be big free agents in July: Claxton, Spencer Dinwiddie and Royce O’Neale. They also have four players on vets minimum deals: Lonnie Walker IV, Dennis Smith Jr., Harry Giles III and Trendon Watford. In addition, they’ll have to make decisions this summer on Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe, both of whom are eligible for extensions starting in 2025-26. That of course assumes the Nets don’t make moves at the trade deadline or at the Draft.

Scotto specifically asked Claxton about Dinwiddie’s assessment that Claxton is looking at a $100 million deal.

“I think he’s definitely telling the truth,” Claxton told Hoopshype. “But I can’t get caught up in all that. I’ve got to go out and continue to do what I do. I know that financially, I’ll be taken care of at the end of the day. That’s something that’s pretty much always on your mind being in this position, but I’ve got to play basketball and be the best version of myself, and I’ll be good with that.”

Claxton also offered assessments of both his performance and goals as well as those for his team.

“One of the better two-way players in the league,” he replied when Scotto asked about his personal goals. “Offensively, given the opportunity, being that guy that can go out and average around 15 points. At the end of the day, I know what I’ll hang my hat on will be on the defensive side of the ball.”

Claxton has been ambitious offensively as of late. He hit his first three of the season vs. the Suns, shocking Kevin Durant (who Claxton told, “that’s for you.”) He’s also shown off some news moves around the rim in recent games, edging more toward that offensive role.

Specifically, he said that personally he’s once again hoping he can crack the All-Defensive team, something no Nets player has done since Jason Kidd in 2007. As for his snub last season, Claxton attributed that to NBA “politics.”

Claxton also offered Scotto a positive view of the Nets going forward, first noting that despite challenges, the Nets are over .500 with playoff potential.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of winning the games we’re supposed to win. For us, taking that next step as a group is going out and beating some of the top teams in the East and around the league,” said Claxton.

“Fair expectations for us are definitely being a playoff team and definitely going to the playoffs, making some noise, and turning some heads. Obviously, we get to the playoffs, we won’t be a favorite, but going in there, getting some wins, and making it tough for whoever we play against. We got swept a couple of years in a row. That leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”