Nic Claxton speaks during Brooklyn Nets exit interviews on Monday.

Nic Claxton speaks during Brooklyn Nets exit interviews on Monday. Credit: Jeff Bachner

The Nets took care of their first goal this offseason by reportedly hiring Kings assistant/associate head coach Jordi Fernandez as their next coach. Now what?

Fernandez inherits a team that grew stagnant in their first full season post-Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. There’s potential led by Mikal Bridges, Cam Thomas and Cam Johnson, but the group struggled in many areas, especially generating enough offense.

“That's all part of the process,” Johnson said Monday. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, you just got to get better and focus on what we can do going forward.”

Here’s five questions facing the Nets as they put 2023-24 in their rearview mirror.

Will Nic Claxton be back?

Claxton has spent his entire career in Brooklyn, growing from a second-round pick to defensive anchor. Now as an unrestricted free agent, he can either stay or go.

“It’ll be my decision at the end of the day,” Claxton said. “So I’ll just have to talk with my family, my agents, pray about it and see if that’s the best fit."

He’ll be coveted for his defense after finishing eighth in blocks per game. But he’ll also command a salary of at least $20 million per year. The Nets value him as part of their core, but how high are they willing to go to prove it? Does Claxton seek a fresh start after going through four coaches in five seasons?

Biggest on-court needs?

A secondary point guard and another shot creator. Ben Simmons’ injury history means the Nets need reliable lead guards on the roster, including him.

Too often, the Nets’ offense stagnated because of lack of playmaking, which explains being 28th in shooting percentage. Another lead guard besides Dennis Schroder could help add insurance while also getting easier scoring looks for Bridges, Thomas and the team’s shooters.

Another scorer would be nice. But someone who could elevate other’s scoring would be just as good.

What’s next for Cam Thomas?

Thomas played consistent minutes and became a 22-points-per-game scorer this season. The third-year guard improved as a playmaker with his passing and rebounding.

But the Nets need to decide if he’s a starter or a sixth man. Thomas joined the first five when Johnson got hurt and proved his lethal scoring could come within the regular rotation. He still struggles on defense, but his shot-making is better than anyone on the team.

Thomas also is eligible for an extension this offseason until Oct. 21. The Nets don’t have to extend him until after next season, so there’s time to  figure out where Thomas fits going forward before committing to him long-term.

What to do with Ben Simmons?

Simmons has played 57 games over two seasons due to recurring back issues. He’s on an expiring contract next season but he’s owed just over $40 million, which makes him tough to trade.

The Nets clearly tailored their 2023-24 plans around a healthy Simmons, including relying heavily on three-point shooting. That can’t happen next season. Whether he’s healthy or not, they have to plan for him as a bonus, not a foundational player.

That's the reality given Simmons' health. Last season was partially wrecked because the Nets didn't have a sound non-Simmons strategy on offense.  They can't make that mistake again as they also hope to integrate him back into the fold.

What assets do the Nets have this offseason?

The Nets don’t have draft picks this June but have seven tradable first-round picks and 11 future second-round picks. That includes first-round picks in 2025 and 2027 via the Suns.

They also have a $12.9 million non-tax-payer mid-level exception and a $4.7 million biannual exception. That gives the Nets room to attract a decent free agent or parse that money to multiple players.

It also means the Nets could be active in the trade market. With 11 roster spots filled, the Nets have to be shrewd with who they add, putting an emphasis on good defenders and shot creation. This roster has to improve and if that means dangling current players as trade bait — as they did last summer — so be it.

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