Saturday, June 25, 2022

23-year-old athletic freak available for cheap, would fit needs reported by bulls

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The Chicago Bulls have announced that they plan to improve their central defense this summer. There have been reports that they are interested in players like Rudy Gobert and Mitchell Robinson, both of whom would help in this area

Gobert would be great in theory, but getting him to Chicago would require the Bulls to send Nikola Vucevic and other tunes as jazz wouldn’t trade him cheaply. And while Robinson would be a solid addition, they’d probably have to overpay to bring him to the Windy City.

However, there might be a guy in the market that fits the bulls’ needs without them having to break the bank. Nicolas Claxton should be someone to aim for this summer as their MLE without a taxpayer will be available to them.

With the Brooklyn Nets last year, Claxton averaged 8.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 67.4% shots from the field. Claxton also improved in the playoffs, where he averaged 10.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.3 blocks in Brooklyn’s four-game streak against the Boston Celtics.

Claxton would be a solid addition to Chicago’s rotation off the bench thanks to his versatile defense and underrated athletics. Also, recent reports have made it clear that the fledgling center should be available at a fairly reasonable price.

In discussing potential centers that the Houston Rockets could attack in a free hand, Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen reported that the Nets are “considered unlikely to match a mid-level bid.”

Claxton is just 23 years old and averaged 20.7 minutes a game for the Nets last season and realistically he was the most promising big man on the roster. Despite this, he only started 19 games. Instead, the Nets decided to take out Andre Drummond most nights.

Drummond got the job done when he joined the Nets after trading James Harden, but it’s definitely debatable why the Nets didn’t want to bring Claxton back. He’s a bright spot in an otherwise shaky center rotation in Brooklyn.

However, their hesitation would bode well for the Bulls, who could offer Claxton their full non-taxpayer MLE if they so wished. That would be worth just over $10 million, but considering the Nets probably can’t match a standard MLE (about $6 million), the Bulls could probably get away with paying Claxton a little less.

The craziest part is that this isn’t the first time Brooklyn has considered moving away from Claxon.

According to Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News, the Nets tried to trade Claxton on time last season.

“I have been advised by a number of parties that the Nets are working to reschedule Nic Claxton ahead of the 3pm NBA trade deadline. Claxton missed the Nets’ last two games with strains in his left thigh and the Nets just took over Andre Drummond and are expecting LaMarcus Aldridge back.” Winfield tweeted.

Chicago could seize the opportunity to add Claxton this summer as he would be an ideal replacement for Vucevic thanks to his defensive versatility and potential for improvement.

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