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Nets didn’t used to need Nic Claxton for his offense ... Now, they do!

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets - Game Four Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The videos are everywhere, heartening the souls of Nets fans: Nic Claxton eurostepping, Nic Claxton taking and making threes, Nic Claxton taking and making free throws! If the 2022-23 season was about developing his defensive skills on an offensively gifted squad, then 2023-24 may very well be about the near 7-footer taking on an offensive role far beyond what he showed his first four years in the NBA.

The current videos include a number of what could be enlightening hints of what Claxton could bring...

h/t to @theguardwhisperer on Instagram.

As Brian Lewis writes Saturday in his Post Sports+ column, there’s little doubt but also little record of Claxton displaying an offensive game. There was no need to, not with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joining the roster as the same time as he arrived, the first pick in the 2019 second round. He also had James Harden as a teammate for parts of two seasons.

There was a flash or two, like in this, easily missed, video from Claxton’s last game with Long Island, days before COVID-19 shut the league down. He scored 34 points and showed off both his handle ang his range...

He finished that game with 34 points, nine rebounds, four assists while shooting 10-of-16 overall and 3-of-5 from three. Post-game, Clax called his deep shooting “huge” because he was showing progress. In his nine G League games back then, Clax hit 55.6% of his 3-point shots (10-of-16) and even his 76.2% of his free throws. There are similar videos and stories from Claxton’s second and last season at Georgia when Tom Crean, his new coach, decided to let him play the role of playmaker and encouraged him to take threes.

Although he did average 12.6 ppg last season, much of that was at the rim, off a fast break, a putback, a roll in the pick-and-roll, maybe a short jumper here and there. That was the Nets game plan throughout the season. Even after KD and Kyrie left in February, the Nets kept the same offensive schemes with different players slotted into the plan. Even if he could improve his free throw shooting, that could inflate numbers as Cam Thomas told The ShuZ Show podcast when asked about his teammate’s ceiling.

“Oh, it’s high, you know?” Thomas told Zach Shumaker. “Because Claxton is a great finisher [and a] great defender. The main thing really — and even he’ll tell you — [is] the free throws. I think if he knocks down at least 60, 70 percent of his free throws, that’s way better than anything.

“Instead of like 12 points (per game), whatever he had, that could be like 15 [or] 16. So, that’s really the main thing with Claxton. But Claxton’s super talented. Finish both hands, guard the perimeter, guard the paint and [made] way big jumps [from] when I came in to now. So that’s really the main thing. That’s the big thing. His ceiling is unmatched.”

Next summer, his paycheck may come close. Claxton will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and his market could jump as long as Claxton continues to improve and shows he can be durable as he did last season, missing only one game to injury. Lewis suggests that Claxton could command $20 million a year in a new deal, roughly double what he’ll make this coming season. Could the Nets afford it? It won’t be easy. The Nets already have three contracts playing that amount or higher, in Ben Simmons case, some $40 million. They do not want to go over the luxury tax threshold next year, triggering another year of repeater tax peril in 2024-25.

Lewis spoke to Hoopshype capologist Yossi Gozlan about how a Claxton deal could be structured.

Claxton — who has a base salary of $8.75 million, and a cap hit of $9.625 million — could easily double his pay in free agency. Gozlan estimated even without making any improvement from this past season, Claxton is “looking at least at [Jakob] Poetl money.”

The Toronto Raptors center is on a four-year, $78 million contract.

It could be more. Gozlan told The Post, “if more cap space teams don’t surface, they’ll probably end up getting him back at market value,” or somewhere in the range of Clint Capela, on a two-year, $45.8 million deal.

Also, Jarrett Allen, who he succeeded in the Brooklyn post, is in the middle of a five-year, $100 million deal.

Of course, it’s not a problem to have a 24-year-old thought of so highly around the league. Claxton has said all the right things about wanting to stay in Brooklyn, telling the Post at the end of last season this:

“In our business, you never really know what’s going to happen as far as trades, contracts and everything,” Claxton told Lewis. “But I’ve been here four years, and Brooklyn has been … huge, played a huge role in my growth, and I’d love to be here. But we’ll see how that shakes out. I’m just taking it day-by-day, have a great summer working out and figure all that stuff out later.”

Claxton has also learning the art of diplomacy.

Over the next several weeks, expect to see more videos of Claxton and maybe hear more comments from the Nets about his new role. Claxton isn’t free-lancing when he’s running through those drills we see. That’s something that the Nets want to see.