The Brooklyn Nets move into the 2022-23 season as a far deeper and more versatile team than last year. A busy offseason featuring a key trade and numerous free agent signings added several new faces to Brooklyn’s supporting cast.
However, the Nets still have needs such as a floor-spacing center and backup point guard. And those offseason moves left the team with talented players who could become expendable and used as trade chips during the season.
With that said, here are the four Nets most likely to be traded during the 2022-23 season:
4. Nic Claxton
Nic Claxton projects to be Brooklyn’s starting center. However, his fit alongside Ben Simmons as a non-shooter is cause for concern. Playing Claxton alongside Simmons, who both present zero threat from the outside, could clog driving lanes and neutralize Simmons’ incredible ability to attack the paint and finish/facilitate. A stretch big who can open the floor for the three-time All-Star is an important need for the Nets.
Markieff Morris may fill in as a small-ball five to start the year, but it is worth noting he has struggled shooting in his last two seasons and is undersized at the five.
The Nets tried to trade Claxton at last year’s deadline, with a Toronto deal reportedly falling through at the last minute. He finished the season in Brooklyn and signed a two-year, $17.25 million deal this summer. The big man’s ability as a perimeter defender and lob threat should make that a valuable contract.
NIC CLAXTON. OH MY 😱 pic.twitter.com/DOlBarxdah
— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 26, 2021
Claxton is eligible to be traded after January 15th. The Nets could look to flip the 23-year-old’s mid-sized contract if a floor-spacing big becomes available on the market.
3. Patty Mills
Patty Mills re-signed with Brooklyn on a two-year, $13.3 million contract after opting out of his player option this summer. The 13-year veteran averaged 11.4 points per game on 40.0 percent shooting from three last season but struggled to maintain his production as the year progressed. At 6’0″, Mills’ defensive deficiencies were glaring at points in his first season in Brooklyn, with his fit alongside Kyrie Irving (6’2”) and Seth Curry (6’2”) causing issues on that end.
Brooklyn’s shooting depth and Mills’ limited defensive ability make it difficult to envision the 34-year-old playing a significant role in a playoff rotation. The guard is eligible to be traded after December 15th. If General Manager Sean Marks is willing to part with his longtime friend, he could package Mills’ $6.5 million salary with a young player like Cam Thomas and draft compensation for an upgrade.
2. Cam Thomas
Cam Thomas heads into his sophomore season after averaging 8.5 points and 1.2 assists per game as a rookie. The 20-year-old is among the most talented scorers on Brooklyn’s roster. However, with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons dominating the ball, plus an established bucket-getter in T.J. Warren entering the mix, Thomas does not fill a need for the Nets.
At 6’3”, he struggles defensively against NBA scorers. Offensively, his suspect shooting (32.5 percent from three in college, 27.0 percent as a rookie) decreases his value alongside Brooklyn’s stars. Despite this, Thomas’ youth and pure scoring ability should be attractive to rebuilding teams who can offer the guard an expanded role.
The Nets could package Thomas with one of their mid-sized contracts and draft compensation. Let’s use the Mills and Thomas package mentioned above as an example. Both combine for $8.6 million in salary. Additionally, teams can take back 125 percent of outgoing salary plus $100,000 in a trade. This means Brooklyn could theoretically trade Mills and Thomas for a player making just over $10.7 million. A package of Mills (or another mid-sized contract), Thomas, and/or a first-round pick could land Brooklyn an upgrade at a position of need.
1. Seth Curry
Seth Curry tops this list for two reasons: his expiring contract is great value at $8.5 million and Brooklyn has better defenders who can still space the floor at his position. The 32-year-old started all 17 of his games with the Nets last season, averaging 14.9 points on 46.8 percent shooting from three despite battling an ankle injury. Curry is among the top shooters in the league and has a proven track record as a clutch performer. He also presents a capable secondary ball-handler late in the shot clock.
Seth Curry showed out in his return to Philly dropping 24 points on 10/14 FGM! #NetsWorld@sdotcurry: 24 PTS, 5 STL, 4 3PM pic.twitter.com/42v9by9adt
— NBA (@NBA) March 11, 2022
However, he struggles defensively at 6’2″, making his fit alongside Irving questionable. Brooklyn already has one of the other top shooters in the league in Joe Harris. They also traded for Royce O’Neale, who has proven respectable as a floor-spacer at a similar position. Both have greater size and defensive capability alongside Brooklyn’s stars.
For those reasons, Curry presents a valuable trade chip for Brooklyn this season. The Nets could package the veteran with a young player such as Thomas or Day’Ron Sharpe. They could also use Curry with Claxton in a larger package for a significant piece.
Joe Harris just missed the list and there is a possibility that the Nets trade the sharpshooter. However, past reports have indicated a close relationship between Harris and Marks and a recent report said the team is adamant they do not want to trade the seventh-year Net.
Brooklyn still has holes on its roster that should be addressed this season. Marks has several trade chips to upgrade the supporting cast around Durant, Irving and Simmons. Expect him to get creative down the line in a win-now year for Brooklyn.