The countdown is on for the NBA with less than two weeks remaining until the 2022 trade deadline on Feb. 10. The Brooklyn Nets aren’t in a dire need to make a move but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t gaps that Joe Tsai and Sean Marks should try to address.
Brooklyn’s dropped down to No. 4 in the Eastern Conference with a 29-19 record. Kevin Durant sprained his MCL two weeks ago and is expected to be out for at least two more weeks, if not more. Joe Harris hasn’t played in a game for the Nets in 10 weeks and the timeline for his return isn’t clear.
With Kyrie Irving available on a part-time basis, James Harden is Brooklyn’s go-to player. Reports have said that he’s open to exploring opportunities with other teams this summer, which may have motivated Tsai and Marks to make a splash before the deadline.
The Nets were chosen as the preseason title favorites, and if they want to increase their chances of winning their first title in June, the organization needs to fill these roles.
3 roles the Brooklyn Nets need to fill ahead of the trade deadline.
3: Rim protecter
Outside of Nic Claxton, Brooklyn lacks a true rim protector. Claxton’s versatility allows for him to defend the post and the perimeter but a non-COVID illness and injuries have caused him to only play in 21 games so far this season.
Claxton’s name has been floated out on the trade market, too, and if the Nets want to have an answer for their opponents down low in the playoffs, they need to go after a player that can defend the rim.
Brooklyn deal Jarrett Allen to Cleveland as part of the Harden trade last year. By doing so, the Nets lost an excellent rim protector to the team that sits above them in the conference rankings. He’s currently averaging 1.4 blocks per game, which is more than Claxton’s current team-high of 1.1 blocks.
To fill this need, Brooklyn could go after San Antonio’s Jakob Poeltl, although it’d come at a price. He’s owed $8.8 million this year and $9.4 million next season. He’s averaging 1.7 blocks per game and would match up well against which team/s the Nets will face in the playoffs.
Durant’s a solid rim protector in his own right but the goal should be to alleviate some of the pressure off his shoulders, not to add to it.