As a part of our ongoing series detailing which players the Charlotte Hornets should target in NBA free agency, our attention shifts to the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets finished with a 44-38 record, which earned them a 7th-place finish in the Eastern Conference. Despite having two of the most talented scorers in the league, Brooklyn had an incredibly controversial, disappointing, season-ending sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Any team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving should not get swept in any round of the playoffs, let alone the first round. Unfortunately for Nets fans, this season was a circus that revolved around Kyrie, James Harden, and later, Ben Simmons, who never suited up for the squad.
Brooklyn went all-in on competing for a championship this season, and that will cost them in free agency. The Nets have a haul of free agents coming this summer, and the Hornets may be interested in several of the veterans hitting the market. In Charlotte, the Hornets are looking to get over the hump, make the playoffs, and try to advance to the second round for the first time in 20+ years. A few of Brooklyn’s veterans may be able to aid that goal.
Although the Nets do not possess any team options in 2022, they have two crucial player options headed their way. Irving and Patty Mills have player options for the 2022-23 season. It will be very interesting to see if Kyrie will pick up his option or not. While he has not been a reliable player in Brooklyn, he is deadly when he is on the court. Mills is about the exact opposite; he is consistently available but reaching the end of the line in his career. The Hornets are not likely to pursue either of these players if they hit the open market.
David Duke and Nic Claxton are the Nets’ restricted free agents. While Duke saw inconsistent playing time, Claxton is an integral part of Brooklyn’s rotation. Duke should not pop up on the Hornets’ radar, but Claxton should be a priority target. As a young athletic big, Claxton would fit the Hornets’ scheme perfectly. He provides defense and low-usage scoring on the offensive side, which would pair nicely with the LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges core (a trio known for their high usage).
The unrestricted free agents are even more intriguing than the restricted players. Bruce Brown, Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, and Goran Dragic highlight the Nets’ unrestricted class of free agents. Brown is the only young player in this group, and he earned himself a massive contract with the way he played this season. While he may be too expensive for the Hornets, he should get a contract offer from nearly every team in the league.
For the remainder of the free agents, they are aging stars. Of this cast, Dragic and Drummond would make the most sense in Charlotte. With Drummond’s rebounding prowess and Dragic’s experience as a backup point guard, they could slide into the Hornets’ rotation easily. Aldridge and Griffin may fill a need the Hornets have in the frontcourt, but they are probably going to re-sign in Brooklyn or head to another title-contender.
Overall, the Nets have an incredible free agent class in 2022. With stacks of talent hitting the market, the Hornets will be licking their lips at the prospect of acquiring some of the Nets’ youngsters and veterans alike.