A key role player for the Brooklyn Nets could be traded in the near future, according to reports.

With a 20-8 record, the Brooklyn Nets lead the Eastern Conference Playoff standings.

On paper, the Nets appear to be the best team in the conference, but numbers aren't always what they seem. They've struggled against the NBA's best teams.

The Nets are 0-6 against the Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, and Charlotte Hornets.

While having home-court advantage in the playoffs is advantageous, it won't matter if other teams are more talented.

And that is the situation in which the Nets currently find themselves.

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When you have a core of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and (possibly) Kyrie Irving, you need players who can move the needle. The Nets have a lot of nice young pieces on their squad who could potentially blossom into stars.

According to "Bleacher Report's" Jake Fischer, the Nets could trade their young big man Nicolas Claxton in the future.

"Rival executives believe Nic Claxton will become available," Fischer writes, "as the Nets quietly assessed his value during the 2021 draft."

Claxton is averaging 6.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 61.4 percent shooting from the field this season, but his true value comes from his length and athleticism.

It's especially noticeable on the defensive end, where he's averaging 1.0 block per game.

"The third-year forward has done well for Brooklyn, but rival executives believe he could be the outgoing player Brooklyn trades to get a veteran into either the roughly $6 million trade exception from moving DeAndre Jordan or the $11.5 million trade exception from Spencer Dinwiddie's sign-and-trade to Washington ahead of his restricted free agency this summer."

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The Nets' pursuit of a Claxton trade began well before the current season.

Claxton is in the final year of his three-year, $4.2 million contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

According to Michael A. Scotto of HoopsHype, the Nets selected Day'Ron Sharpe in this year's draft to prepare for a possible split with Claxton.

"The Nets drafted Day 'Ron Sharpe in case they traded Nicolas Claxton or he got a huge restricted free agency offer that they couldn't match," Scotto writes for HoopsHype.

"With Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and Spencer Dinwiddie gone, Joe Harris is the only remaining member of the team's original rebuilding core... In years past, even if Joe was going to be a free agent, the Nets would've wanted a lottery pick if they were even thinking of trading him. Claxton? Other teams believe he can do more than he's shown in Brooklyn, especially as a ball handler. I think they've got nice assets there

The Nets were once considered the NBA's next great dynasty, but their championship window may be closing sooner than anticipated.

If they want to take advantage of this opportunity, they should consider making a move before the trade deadline.

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