With a pretty clear eye on free agency plans, the Brooklyn Nets have traded Allen Crabbe and a first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks.
The Brooklyn Nets are expected to be significant players this offseason, with cap space to burn. They got a start on their offseason Thursday, with a trade that has clear implications and reveals their intentions.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets will send guard Allen Crabbe, the No. 17 pick in this year’s draft and a lottery protected first-round pick in 2020 to the Atlanta Hawks for forward Taurean Prince and a 2021 second-round pick.
The deal will clear Crabbe’s $18.5 million player option for next season off Brooklyn’s books, as well as the cap hold for the No. 17 pick in the draft later this month.
They now have $46 million in cap space, which can be used for one max player and to retain restricted free agent DeAngelo Russell. If they let Russell go, Brooklyn will have room for two max contracts.
SG Allen Crabbe, No. 17 pick in 2019 NBA Draft, protected 1st round pick in 2020
F Taurean Prince, 2nd Round Pick in 2021
The Nets are getting a solid young player in Prince (13.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, 39 percent from 3-point range last season), who should be a solid piece for them.
But he’s also slated to make less than $3.5 million next season and that’s the root of the transaction for Brooklyn. Wojnarowski instantly named one major looming free agent set to be interested in signing with them, while hinting at a broader aggressive approach from the Nets.
The follow-up plan in free agency has to pay off. But in the moment, the Nets have cleared cap space and also added a young player who may prove to be quite valuable in his own right.
The Hawks have the cap space to take on Crabbe’s salary, which is also an expiring deal (he exercised his option for the final year last month). They already had two top-10 picks in this year’s draft, their own at No. 8 and No. 10 via a trade with the Dallas Mavericks last year.
They now have three of the first 20 picks this year, with the door open wide to plenty of options on draft night.
As mentioned, the 2020 first-round pick the Hawks also acquired is lottery-protected. But the Nets were not in the lottery this year, and if they add the kind of talent they have their eye they’ll win plenty of games next season and Atlanta will get the pick in next year’s draft.
The Nets are trying to build on a playoff season, with money to spend in free agency to accelerate that timetable. Crabbe’s salary was one notable limitation, and they’ve now offloaded it.
The Hawks aren’t at that stage, trying making a push to the top half of the Eastern Conference next season, so in a broader sense it makes sense for them to stockpile draft capital in order to add more young talent.
Both teams did very well in this trade, as what looks to be a big part of a specific plan on each side. But future analysis of the deal will be determined by how those plans paid off, and the short-term stakes are far higher for the Nets.