RUMOR: Damian Lillard’s reason for interest in Nets, revealed

There’s a real world where Damian Lillard could have been reporting to training camp on Monday as a member of the Brooklyn Nets. With trade talks between the Portland Trail Blazers and his top destination, the Miami Heat, going nowhere, Lillard instructed his agent to inform the Nets and Milwaukee Bucks he was interested in coming to both teams.

Brooklyn showed no interest in entering negotiations, and 10 days later, Lillard was traded to Milwaukee. Lillard’s interest in the Nets was well-documented throughout the summer. Nate Jones, an agent at Goodwin Sports, which represents Lillard, detailed the seven-time All-Star’s reasoning Thursday on Twitter:

“Dame had Brooklyn on his list because he wanted to play with Mikal (Bridges) who he has believed in from Day 1,” Jones wrote. “(He) also believed in Ben Simmons bouncing back.”

Lillard’s interest in playing alongside Bridges should come as no surprise. The Villanova product emerged as one of the league’s top rising stars following his trade to Brooklyn last season, averaging 27.7 points on 47/38/89 shooting splits in 30 appearances.

Bridges continued to turn heads during the FIBA World Cup, emerging as Team USA’s second-best player behind only Minnesota superstar Anthony Edwards.

As a former Defensive Player of the Year candidate with knockdown catch-and-shoot ability and a growing repertoire as an on-ball scorer, Mikal  Bridges’ malleable skillset is tailor-made to fit alongside a high-usage star. This bodes well for the Nets, who have Bridges under contract at just $23.3 million annually for the next three seasons and will be looking to cash in their stockpile of draft picks for a top option.

Damian Lillard’s belief in Ben Simmons is more noteworthy. After sitting out the entire 2021-22 season and appearing like a shell of his old self during 42 appearances last year, the former No. 1 pick has become an afterthought in the discussion surrounding Brooklyn’s future.

Simmons’ health appears to be trending in the right direction. The 27-year-old is playing 5-on-5 with no restrictions ahead of training camp and recently called his body “the strongest it’s been” since joining Brooklyn. Simmons has no shortage of confidence in what a healthy version of himself can do this season, saying he’s “ready to dominate people” and alluding to the numerous accolades he collected with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Aussie will open the year playing point guard for a Nets team that ranked 23rd in offensive rating last season after trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. His ability to return to his Philadelphia form will determine Brooklyn’s ceiling in 2023-24. Many will remain skeptical of Simmons’ ability to bounce back, but Lillard appears to believe in the three-time All-Star, and coming from a player of his caliber and basketball IQ, that means something.

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Nets’ Cam Johnson reveals Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown inspiration for Mikal Bridges duo

Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, dubbed “The Twins” by their Phoenix Suns teammates after joining the team, quickly became fan favorites in Phoenix due to their hard-nosed defense, unselfishness and three-point shooting. After a midseason trade sent the duo to the Brooklyn Nets, Johnson and Bridges turned heads across the league while stepping into expanded roles.

The pair’s quick adjustment after years as complementary pieces alongside Devin Booker and Chris Paul was a pleasant surprise for Brooklyn fans. However, Johnson and Bridges had no doubts about their abilities. The former said they had been preparing for the moment throughout their time in Phoenix, even drawing inspiration from one of the league’s top young wing duos.

“Mikal and I talked about how we didn’t have any qualms about our roles in Phoenix because we love to win and our team was winning, but we were like, ‘We really got more stuff.’ So we worked on it every day,” Johnson said Tuesday on The Old Man and the Three Podcast with JJ Redick. “We were like, ‘(Jayson) Tatum and (Jayson) Brown, that’s an elite wing duo. We’re gonna keep working. We’re maybe like a low-usage version, a 3-and-D version (of them).’ We always would joke around about that.”

Bridges emerged as one of the NBA’s rising stars following his trade to Brooklyn. In 30 games, he averaged 27.7 points on 47/38/89 shooting splits. The 27-year-old scored 30 or more 12 times during that span after reaching the total just twice in four-and-a-half years with Phoenix.

After a slow start, Johnson began to catch his stride heading into the playoffs. Over the last 10 games of the season, he averaged 16.5 points on 53/45/96 shooting splits. He then emerged as Brooklyn’s most consistent performer during a first-round sweep against Philadelphia, averaging 18.5 points on 50.9 percent shooting from the field and 42.9 percent from three (7.0 attempts per game). That included a 22-point first half on the road in Game 2.

Bridges consistently said he got “traded at the perfect time” amid his breakout with the Nets. Johnson called the adjustment to a higher-usage role in Brooklyn a “natural” transition.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to continue to climb the ladder of the NBA,” he said of joining the Nets. “The opportunity to go to a team and then continue to take those steps, very natural steps in our career, it’s not like a forced step, is amazing. How often does that happen? Where you have the ability to play on such a great team, learn, and then get transferred to another high-level organization where you’re just able to continue growing your game.

“Mikal is a huge example of that. That’s what I point to, and everybody asks, ‘Oh, he just completely changed; where did that come from?’ I’m like, ‘No, he’s worked on this stuff for five years, he’s had opportunities with all these injuries to continue to implement it into his game, and then boom, completely ready to take advantage of the opportunity in Brooklyn.’”

Johnson’s usage could be significantly higher in 2023-24 with the Nets searching for three-level scoring. And after averaging just 2.7 assists per game with Brooklyn last season, Bridges will need to make significant strides as a playmaker if the Nets hope to improve an offense that ranked 23rd after trading Durant and Irving.

The newest Nets duo will headline the roster alongside Ben Simmons, Spencer Dinwiddie and Nic Claxton as Brooklyn attempts to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

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Nets’ Cam Johnson reveals most exciting aspect of ‘unique’ Brooklyn roster in 2023-24

The Brooklyn Nets enter the 2023-24 season with a fully revamped roster. After posting a 12-15 record and being swept in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers following the midseason trades of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn will have a full offseason and training camp to incorporate a bevy of new faces.

Among the new-look roster’s top players is fifth-year forward Cam Johnson. After signing a four-year, $94.5 million extension this summer, Johnson revealed what excites him most about the Nets’ 2023-24 campaign:

“To see our team establish our own identity,” he said Thursday on The Old Man and the Three podcast with J.J. Redick. “Which last season was really hard given the circumstances. You’re traded to a team midseason, you’re trying to figure out a lot on the fly. I think the most exciting thing is really hammering out who we want to be as a team, and then using the unique pieces that we have to our advantage.”

The Nets enter 2023-24 with the bulk of their rotation from the second half of last season. Ben Simmons, Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Johnson and Nic Claxton make up the projected starting five. Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale will be fixtures as veterans off the bench. Dennis Smith Jr., Lonnie Walker IV, Darius Bazley and Trendon Watford will compete for rotation spots after signing for the minimum, while Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe will attempt to carve our roles in their third seasons.

Johnson pointed to the roster’s versatility on both ends when breaking down the roster:

“I think we have unique pieces,” he said. “Nic Claxton is a very unique center in his ability to run, guard every position, (be a) lob threat. Obviously Ben opens the game completely for guys like me and Mikal. Then Spence, Doe, Royce, we’re very interchangeable. Defensively we should be really, really good.”

While Brooklyn didn’t make a splash move this summer, there was a clear shift toward youth, length and athleticism. The team swapped out aging shooters and defensive liabilities in Joe Harris, Patty Mills and Seth Curry for young, versatile athletes in Smith Jr., Walker IV, Bazley and Watford. Those changes should strengthen the Nets’ switch-heavy defensive scheme and defensive rebounding (28th in 2022-23).

Brooklyn has eight players who ranked in the 80th percentile or better in defensive estimated plus-minus last season, per That includes three former Defensive Player of the Year candidates: Mikal Bridges, Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton. The Nets’ roster posts an average height of 6-foot-6 and an average wingspan of 6-foot-9.

The team is also far younger than in years past, posting an average age of 24.7 years. That would have been the seventh-youngest in the league entering 2022-23. Brooklyn entered last season with an average age of 27.6 years, the NBA’s fifth-oldest roster.

The Nets will open training camp on Oct. 3 before traveling to Las Vegas ahead of their preseason opener on Oct. 9 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. Brooklyn’s regular-season opener is set for Oct. 25 at home vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Why Nets passing on Damian Lillard trade despite 7-time All-Star’s interest is a positive sign for fans

Eight months ago, the Brooklyn Nets were thought to have hit rock bottom. Kyrie Irving requested a trade, then Kevin Durant. Brooklyn acquiesced to both, completing the implosion of what many considered the most talented big three in NBA history.

With Durant, Irving and James Harden all requesting trades from within a year, the questions about the future began: Were Brooklyn’s days as a star destination over? What is the direction of the franchise after such an epic failure?

It took just two months for another star to set his sights on the Nets. With his eyes wandering from his longtime home in Portland, seven-time All-Star guard Damian Lillard sat courtside at Barclays Center for Game 3 of the Nets’ first-round series, sparking rumors of interest in a trade to Brooklyn.

A month later, amid his known unhappiness with the direction of the Blazers, Lillard called the Nets and Heat his two “obvious” trade destinations during an appearance on Showtime Sports.

The superstar guard finally requested a trade on July 1, and while he labeled Miami as his preferred team, Brooklyn was a close second. Fast forward nearly three months, with negotiations between the Blazers and Heat going nowhere, Lillard’s interest in the Nets never faded.

On Sep. 17, Brooklyn General Manager Sean Marks’ phone rang. On the line was Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin. He informed Marks that Lillard was interested in a trade to Brooklyn or Milwaukee, per ESPN Andscape’s Marc J. Spears. With seven tradable first-round picks compared to one for Milwaukee, as well as a young centerpiece in Nic Claxton, the Nets were in the driver’s seat to make a deal.

Marks was less than a year removed from fully dismantling a team that entered the 2021-22 season as a title favorite. After such an outstanding letdown, that general manager would often be on the hot seat in today’s NBA climate. That GM would often jump at the opportunity to acquire a Top 15 player to reengage the fanbase, as well as ownership.

Marks chose another route. He passed on pushing in his chips for an accelerated timeline with the 33-year-old Lillard, preserving Brooklyn’s chest of assets for things to come. Lillard was subsequently traded to Milwaukee for Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, an unprotected 2029 1st-round pick, and two unprotected first-round pick swaps (2028, 2030).

Brooklyn’s decision to hold off is a telling sign of Marks’ long-term job security in the eyes of owner Joe Tsai.

With a core featuring Bridges (27), Johnson (28), and Claxton (24), the Nets are now positioned with the fourth-most draft capital in the league to build a package in future deals.  Brooklyn fans can rest easy knowing the Nets are a team with a direction, a team that will not act out of desperation, and a team that will be firmly in the mix when younger stars become available in the near future.

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RUMOR: Damian Lillard’s shocking Bucks, Nets stance before blockbuster trade, revealed

Damian Lillard definitely wasn’t surprised to be moving on from the Portland Trail Blazers shortly before training camp. His ultimate destination in wake of a very public trade request, though? It turns out the seven-time All-Star had not only advanced knowledge, but advanced approval of his trade to the Milwaukee Bucks.

As trade talks between the Blazers and Miami Heat fizzled recently, Lillard reportedly sent word to the Bucks and Brooklyn Nets that he’d be “interested” in being dealt to either team.

“With Miami talks going nowhere, agent Aaron Goodwin privately told the Bucks and Nets 10 days ago that Dame would be interested in a deal there,” ESPN and Andscape’s Marc Spears wrote on Twitter. “The Raptors were a real contender to land the ex-Blazers star, but ultimately Bucks got it done per Woj report.”

News of Lillard giving pre-trade thumbs up to Milwaukee and Brooklyn is hardly shocking. Even once it became clear Joe Cronin and the front office weren’t fond of the trade assets being offered by Miami, Lillard’s top preference, it was always difficult to believe Portland would send the greatest player in franchise history somewhere he truly didn’t want to be.

Lillard, remember, initially named the Nets alongside the Heat as his desired next team upon requesting a trade on July 1st. He and Giannis Antetokounmpo have spoken glowingly of each other for years, while the Greek Freak’s candid recent comments about potentially leaving the Bucks if they weren’t pushing all-in for more championships no doubt increased the sense of urgency in Milwaukee’s front office.

Could Miami have done more to get the Blazers to re-engage in trade discussions over the past couple weeks? Possibly, especially in light of swirling rumors that the Heat didn’t feel compelled to sacrifice all of their assets just to bring Lillard to South Beach. But the notion he would’ve been happy enough with the Bucks or Nets no doubt weakened Miami’s negotiating leverage with Portland, all but cinching Damian Lillard would be playing elsewhere in 2023-24.

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Nets expecting more from Mikal Bridges in key area entering 2023-24

The Brooklyn Nets want more from Mikal Bridges this season.

If you watched Bridges following his trade to the Nets in 2022-23, that’s saying a lot. The former Sun quickly cemented himself within the inner circle of the NBA’s rising stars, averaging 27.7 points per game on 47/38/89 shooting splits in 30 games with Brooklyn. Bridges scored 30 or more 12 times during that span after reaching the total just twice in four-and-a-half years with Phoenix.

The Villanova product continued to turn heads during the FIBA World Cup, emerging as Team USA’s second-best player behind only Minnesota superstar Anthony Edwards. Bridges played the tenacious two-way defense that made him a fan favorite in Phoenix while showcasing his malleable offensive skillset as a high-level on-ball creator and spot-up shooter.

Expectations for Bridges have never been higher entering 2023-24. Yet, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn and general manager Sean Marks still feel their new number one option has significant room to grow:

“We’re gonna put more on his plate. We’re going to ask him to do more,” Vaughn said. “But at the same time, you saw in Team USA, he grabbed on to what has made him pretty special in this league: being a connector on that team, being defensive-minded every single game. So those things he’ll continue to do, but I will put more on his plate going forward.”

“I think you saw a compete and a care factor. Whether it was up until the last missed free throw, ‘I’m not going to give up, I’m going to somehow find a way.’ That’s who he is.”

“Putting more on his plate” should be viewed as a euphemism for “expect him to close out games in clutch moments.”

Despite his breakout as a high-usage scorer with Brooklyn, Bridges had the ball far less than expected in crunch time. He attempted just nine of the team’s 60 clutch shots during that span compared to 22 for Spencer Dinwiddie, per The Nets ranked 28th in clutch offense (final five minutes within five points) to close the year, shooting 40 percent while posting a 4-7 record in clutch games.

Bridges’ low usage in clutch moments can be attributed to his inexperience as a lead ball handler. The former lottery pick averaged just 2.7 assists per game with the Nets and has clear room to grow in reading defensive coverages. That inexperience as a distributor led to the nine-year veteran Dinwiddie, who ranked fifth in the league at 9.1 assists per game after joining the Nets, dominating the ball down the stretch of games.

Brooklyn would like to change that late-game dynamic in 2023-24, with Marks alluding to higher crunch time usage for Bridges:

“I think he’s proven to a lot of people that his role can continue to get better and better and bigger and bigger, so I think I would be pretty silly to be up here and limit him and say he cannot be something,” the GM said following Brooklyn’s first-round sweep against Philadelphia. “I think that a few people have had their eyes open to what he can do. But now, when the ball’s in his hands in those key crucial moments of games, can he step up? Can he be that guy that we can rely on in big moments?”

“We saw it a little bit in Phoenix when Devin Booker was out, he carried a considerable load for them. And then we saw this year where he came in and immediately was a crowd favorite. You could get behind him. It’s just the way he played, how he played and he didn’t shy away from those moments either. So I would definitely not limit him and say he could only be this for us.”

The Nets’ expectations for Bridges aren’t limited to his on-court performance. The team also expects Bridges to continue his growth as the team’s leader, with Vaughn pointing to the 27-year-old’s ability to connect with teammates on Team USA:

“I think you saw, you’re able to keep up with guys because of social media this day, so whether he forms a relationship with Austin Reaves, the next thing you know, they have a handshake together. Those things make Mikal special when you’re talking about creating an environment, a community, a co-op, everyone doing their part,” Vaughn said. “He is the quintessential president of the co-op.”

Bridges joins a Nets core predominately in the same age range this season, with Ben Simmons (27), Cam Johnson (27), Nic Claxton (24), and Spencer Dinwiddie (30) headlining the roster. That group will attempt to lead Brooklyn to their sixth-straight playoff appearance during the first full season of the post-Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving era.

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Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie makes bold Ben Simmons-Draymond Green comparison

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie isn’t tolerating any more Ben Simmons slander. The nine-year veteran stood up for his teammate during an appearance on The Pat Bev Podcast Wednesday, calling Simmons “a far more athletic” version of Golden State’s Draymond Green:

“Ben at his best form is a far more athletic Draymond Green with less three-point shooting,” Dinwiddie said. “When you talk about the defensive IQ, reading passing lanes, quarterbacking a defense, able to guard one through five. He’s one of the only people in the league who can do that. And then obviously he’s getting out on that break.”

“He’s never been fortunate enough to play with Steph and Klay obviously, so I think if he was in that type of environment you would see those same kind of triple-doubles, accolades, things like that.”

The prospect of a healthy Ben Simmons running the offense has been the talk of the Nets entering 2023-24. The former number-one pick has raved about his newfound health this offseason, as well as his expectation to start at point guard. Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn and General Manager Sean Marks confirmed Tuesday that Simmons is 100 percent entering training camp, as well as their intention to start him at point guard.

Simmons starting as Brooklyn’s PG will move Dinwiddie to shooting guard. Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson will remain in the starting lineup on the wings, with Nic Claxton at center. Dinwiddie outlined Brooklyn’s vision for the new-look offense around Simmons:

“When Ben’s at his best, he’s getting off the rim, he’s being a monster in transition, and then he makes plays for others,” he said. “We hope that there’s enough shooting out there with Mikal, Cam Johnson obviously is elite, he’s always shooting 45 from three. Catch and shoot-wise I’ve been a good three-point shooter in my career.”

“We hope to space the floor for him. He gets out in transition and makes plays. And obviously, you’ve got Nic playing above the rim.”

While Simmons enters the year as Brooklyn’s point guard, Vaughn indicated the three-time All-Star playing the position is contingent on his ability to apply pressure to opposing defenses. Simmons doesn’t appear to have any reservations about his ability to play the position at a high level:

“I’m excited because I know I can do it,” Ben Simmons told ESPN Andscape on Aug. 25. “So, that’s the exciting part for me. [Last Thursday] night, I’m like, ‘Yo, let’s get back in the gym.’ I’m excited. I get to do something I love to do at a high level. Regardless of what people say, I’m a three-time All-Star, All-NBA player, [All-] Defensive Team. I’ve done things. I’m not somebody that hasn’t done anything.”

It won’t be long before fans get a first look at the revamped Ben Simmons-Spencer Dinwiddie backcourt. Brooklyn opens training camp on Oct. 3 before their first preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 9.

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Nets GM Sean Marks gets brutally honest on Jacque Vaughn’s ‘bigger, nastier’ offseason plea

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks didn’t mince words at the end of the 2022-23 season: his team needed to get bigger and nastier on the boards.

After ranking 28th in defensive rebounding and losing the second-chance points battle 80-22 during a first-round sweep against Philadelphia, both Marks and head coach Jacque Vaughn appeared aligned on the need to address the weakness.

“We’ve gotta get bigger over the summer, we’ve gotta get nastier, we’ve gotta get guys who really love hitting and take it personally when the other team gets a rebound,” Vaughn said following the first-round sweep. “That’s what we’ll be looking for.”

“Without a doubt, we need to make some changes in terms of adding some size,” Marks said during his exit interview. “I think (head coach) Jacque (Vaughn) said it last night, (need to) add a little nastiness. And then a little bit of the Brooklyn grit that we’ve talked about for sort of six years. It’s gonna come authentically, it’s got to be real.”

Sean Marks addresses offseason

Nets, Sean Marks

Yet, Brooklyn didn’t sign or trade for a true center this offseason, instead taking fliers on young, small-ball options in Darius Bazley (6-foot-9) and Trendon Watford (6-foot-8) alongside Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe. When asked about the lack of additions to the frontcourt, Marks said Brooklyn will need to improve its rebounding from within.

“I think JV and I spent some time pre-free agency, pre-draft, looking at this, and it’s not going to be one man out there that just fixes our rebounding deficiency,” the GM said Tuesday. “We’re going to have to do that a little bit by committee. The people we brought in, a lot of them have a lot of length. There’s a lot of IQ out there. JV’s system is going to help with a lot of that.

“We may not be the best defensive rebounding team in the league or offensive rebounding team in the league, but the plan is certainly to be better than we were in the past. Again, that’s going to be by a committee, a system, and a mindset with all of our players.”

Marks’ teams are not known for their size or activity on the glass. The Nets have never ranked higher than 24th in defensive rebounding during his seven years at the helm. Brooklyn has instead leaned into a fast-paced style of play that prioritizes three-point shooting.

Jacque Vaughn hints at changes, bigger opportunity for Day’Ron Sharpe

The Nets’ defensive schemes last season also presented rebounding hurdles. With Claxton blossoming as one of the best perimeter-defending centers in the league, Vaughn and his staff leaned into a switch-heavy scheme. This often pulled Claxton out to the three-point line on pick-and-rolls and DHOs, leaving Brooklyn vulnerable on the glass. Vaughn acknowledged this Tuesday and hinted at potential changes defensively.

“The schemes that we leaned towards a little bit that last year, we were just a little bit handcuffed with how we had to play,” he said. “With a training camp, I’m going to put more things on the guys’ plates early in the year for us to try out. So I think schematically, that’s one of the things.”

The backup center position remains another significant question mark. Sharpe, Brooklyn’s most physically imposing center at 265 pounds, could not crack the rotation last season despite a glaring hole behind Claxton. However, Vaughn said the 21-year-old will get another opportunity to earn his place early this season.

“I think Day’Ron Sharpe gets an early look and see how he can impose his will not only helping us put things back to neutral by offensive rebounding, but at the same time, being big and a force for us at the rim,” he said. “He’s a guy that probably will garner some minutes early and see that response. In the past, I have not blinked an eye at playing small and I won’t again, just because there will be some times when we do need to play small and space the floor. But Nic and Day’Ron will have an early chance to impose their will.”

Sharpe’s rebounding could undoubtedly go a long way for Brooklyn. The 21-year-old averaged 13.0 boards per 36 minutes last season. He also led the NBA in offensive rebound percentage among players to play at least 500 minutes. But that size comes with a tradeoff as he presents another limited non-shooter offensively and struggles to move laterally on the perimeter, presenting problems defending the pick-and-roll.

Defensive rebounding deficiencies have plagued the Nets for years. Despite all the talk about the need for change, it could be more of the same this year, barring dramatic improvement from the returning rotation that was bullied by Philadelphia to close last season.

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RUMOR: Nets’ eye-opening trade stance on Ben Simmons before 2023 deadline, revealed

It seems that the Brooklyn Nets may have looked for ways to move forward Ben Simmons off of their books during the 2023 regular season. Simmons has been a member of the Nets since being traded there in 2022, but his time in Brooklyn has largely been defined by missed games and frustration, leading some to wonder whether the team might be interested in moving on.

“There was one Southeast Division team with a legitimate interest in trading for Simmons then as a reclamation project,” according to Ian Begley of SNY. “But outside of that, teams were wary of bringing him on.”

The beginning of Ben Simmons’ career with the Philadelphia 76ers was met with great optimism. Simmons’ rare combination of size, athleticism, and uncanny court vision drew immediate comparisons to both Magic Johnson and LeBron James, and in some ways, he lived up to the hype by making three straight All-Star appearances from 2019-2021.

However, the last few seasons have been defined by a puzzling refusal to shoot the basketball, which came to a head during the 76ers’ second-round loss in 2021 to the Atlanta Hawks, along with nagging injury concerns that have kept him out of the lineup.

Still just 27 years old, there is understandable curiosity about what Simmons could potentially bring to the table if healthy and playing with confidence. However, as more and more time passes by, it’s looking less likely by the day that Simmons will ever truly live up to the lofty potential he had upon entering the league.

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5 potential Nets trade candidates entering 2023-24 NBA training camp

The Brooklyn Nets had a tumultuous 2022-23 NBA season, finishing with a 45-37 record. Despite the challenges they faced, including Kyrie Irving’s myriad controversies and Kevin Durant’s eventual departure, the Nets managed to navigate through the turmoil and make it to the postseason. However, as they enter the 2023-24 NBA training camp, five potential trade candidates could be on the move. These players include Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, Spencer Dinwiddie, Royce O’Neale, and Dorian Finney-Smith. Let’s explore why each of these players could be traded soon and how their departure could impact the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn Nets’ 2022-23 NBA Season

The Nets’ previous NBA season was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride, brimming with challenges and hurdles from the very start. This turbulent journey commenced with the abrupt dismissal of head coach Steve Nash after just seven games. That was a decision that inevitably reverberated through the team’s performance and dynamics. Despite these early adversities, the Nets exhibited remarkable resilience and unwavering spirit. This culminated in a commendable winning regular season record, a testament to their unwavering determination. However, glaring shortcomings loomed large, particularly concerning their team composition and bench depth.

One of the primary areas that demanded immediate attention was the unexpected change in leadership, with Nash’s dismissal triggering a period of adjustment for the team. The ensuing challenges in maintaining consistency and chemistry were evident. Yet, the Nets’ unyielding commitment shone through, as they defied the odds and secured a respectable record.

As we have said, however, questions currently persist regarding the team’s overall composition and bench depth. Right now, the team’s top players are arguably Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Spencer Dinwiddie. That’s a far cry from the star trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, which brought immense firepower. However, this also augurs a fresh new era for the Nets as they chart their own path unencumbered by past baggage. We can expect them to cultivate a more balanced and reliable approach to the game. Remember also that they still emerged with some promise amidst adversity. This underscored the team’s potential for greatness with the right adjustments and continued dedication.

Nevertheless, it’s no secret that the Nets have faced ongoing challenges in recent times. Presently, they find themselves compelled to initiate a rebuilding phase centered around emerging talent like Bridges, as well as the promising potential of players such as Johnson and even Cam Thomas. It’s worth noting, however, that we believe no player on this roster is truly immune from trade discussions.

Now, we’ll examine five potential trade candidates within the Brooklyn Nets. Leading this list is Ben Simmons, whose All-Star status has waned, yet he appears determined to mount a comeback season. In addition to Simmons, the Nets might entertain the idea of parting ways with their top big man, Nic Claxton for future draft picks or other valuable assets. Furthermore, experienced players like Dinwiddie, Royce O’Neale, and Dorian Finney-Smith could potentially thrive better with contending teams.

1. Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons had an uneven and mostly disappointing season in 2022-23, which could make him a potential trade candidate for the Brooklyn Nets. While Simmons is a talented player, his struggles with shooting and offensive consistency have been well-documented. The Nets may look to trade him to acquire a player who can provide more scoring and offensive versatility, complementing Bridges and Johnson.

2. Nic Claxton

Nic Claxton is another player who could be on the move for the Nets. Yes, he has shown promise as a young and athletic big man. He has even improved his numbers over his four NBA seasons. The Nets can make use of Claxton, expecting more improved performances. However, his near-double-double numbers from last season also make him a very strong trade piece. Again, remember that nobody is really untouchable here and that the Nets are looking to rebuild for the future.

3. Spencer Dinwiddie

Spencer Dinwiddie’s future with the Brooklyn Nets has been uncertain. Of course, he has also been the subject of trade rumors in the past. While Dinwiddie is a talented player, his role on the team will be diminished due to the expected focus on Bridges and Johnson. As such, the Nets may look to trade Dinwiddie to acquire more assets that will enable them to jumpstart their rebuild.

4. Royce O’Neale

Royce O’Neale was a key addition for the Nets in the 2022-23 NBA season, but his future with the team is uncertain. O’Neale is known for his defensive prowess and three-point shooting, but the Nets may look to trade him to acquire a player who can provide even more scoring and offensive versatility. If they can trade O’Neale for picks, his departure could open up more playing time for other players on the roster and allow the Nets to acquire more building blocks for the future.

5. Dorian Finney-Smith

Dorian Finney-Smith is another player who could be on the move for the Nets. Sure, Finney-Smith is a solid role player. However, the Nets may look to trade him to acquire a player who can complement Bridges and Johnson better. Finney-Smith’s departure could open up more playing time for other players on the roster, allowing the Nets to develop their young talent.

Looking Ahead

As the Brooklyn Nets enter the 2023-24 NBA training camp, five potential trade candidates could be on the move. These players include Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, Spencer Dinwiddie, Royce O’Neale, and Dorian Finney-Smith. While the Nets still made it to the playoffs in the 2022-23 NBA season, there are areas of improvement that they need to address to compete for a championship. By making strategic trades, the Nets can acquire the necessary pieces to complement the skills of Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, ultimately strengthening their roster and increasing their chances of success in the upcoming season.

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