The NBA draft was further proof that the Nets are going for the big prize this upcoming summer: max free agents.
After trading Allen Crabbe, the No. 17 pick and their 2020 first-rounder, GM Sean Marks then traded the No. 27 pick to the Clippers for the rights to their first-rounder next year and the No. 56 pick.
What that did is free up further cap space leading into free agency in order to land top free agents, namely Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
The Nets currently have seven players under contract. As ESPN's Bobby Marks noted, the Nets increased their space to $68.67 million by trading the 27th pick and not committing to a $2 million cap hold. Marks also noted that the difference between a 30 percent max and 35 percent max for free agents is $1.28 million.
The Nets are confident they can clear that.
And yet, they still drafted two prospects in the second round whom they feel they can develop, most likely with their G-League affiliate in the Long Island Nets: forward Nicolas Claxton and guard Jaylen Hands.
Nicolas Claxton, Georgia, F, 6-11, 220 pounds
With the 31st pick from the Knicks, the Nets scooped up the 6-foot-11 Claxton, who averaged 13 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game during his sophomore year at Georgia. He's also the highest pick out of Georgia since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was selected eighth overall in 2013. He fits the "lobs and blocks" mold given his height and 7-foot-2 wingspan.
He's confident he'll be a "force in the NBA."
"My style of play, I bring a lot of energy," Claxton said of his game. "I'm definitely an energy guy, high-energy guy. Being able to switch, being able to guard multiple positions, doing a great job of that. I'm going to continue to work on stretching my game that way. Being consistent with my jump shot. Continuing to add some muscle. I'm going to be a force in the NBA."
The Nets were reportedly looking for a big man to develop alongside Jarrett Allen. Claxton brought up Allen and embraced the challenge to learn from the two-year pro who averaged a near double-double last year.
"Jarrett Allen, I am familiar with his game," Claxton said. "I know he's a great, great shot blocker. Me and him on the same court, especially once I put some weight on, that's really going to be pressure for anybody that we're playing against. I really will rely on him and try to build a pretty good relationship with him, so he can help me out in any way possible."
There were some big names left on the board -- namely Kevin Porter Jr. and Bol Bol, two projects people were eyeing when it was the Nets' turn to pick. However, Sean Marks has been unpredictable in previous drafts, notably the selections of Caris LeVert, Allen and Rodions Kurucs. Claxton wasn't the expected pick, but Marks and Brooklyn's staff had their eyes on him all season.
"We enjoyed watching him throughout the year," Sean Marks said after the draft at HSS Training Center. "Thrilled to have him in here, workout in front of our coaching staff. Love the person, loved getting to know him and meet him and look forward to meeting the family tomorrow. I think there's a tremendous amount of upside there with him. The way he moves, the way I think he'll eventually be able to stretch the floor, the way he can handle the ball already. It's always nice when you get a guy with that build and hopefully add to that frame."
Marks got what he wanted by trading the 27th pick, but there's obvious risks behind trading a few draft picks. He felt the Nets were able to move down and still draft the guy they wanted in Claxton.
"I think this gave us an opportunity, maybe a little bit of a gamble, but a calculated risk that we knew we could probably get our guy that we wanted, and we're ecstatic to have Nic join the team and then also delay that first-round pick another year and then pick up a second-round pick as well."
Jaylen Hands, UCLA, G, 6-3, 180 pounds
In trading down with the Clippers, the Nets used the No. 56 pick to draft Hands, who just finished his sophomore season at UCLA.
Hands was mostly a point guard but also played shooting guard as well. The 20-year-old from San Diego averaged 14.2 points, 6.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds, shooting 37.3 percent from 3-point range. He'll most likely be with the Long Island Nets next season.
While it doesn't sound like a riveting night for the Nets after trading away both of their first-round picks, they showed their offseason plans are becoming clearer.