In the past two off-seasons, the Brooklyn Nets have justifiably earned a reputation for seeking out young restricted free agents with tremendous upsides and offering lucrative deals which approach maximum contract territory, one of which was former member of the Cal men’s basketball team Allen Crabbe.
Crabbe received and signed Brooklyn’s offer sheet of $75 million over four years, but with the guard’s status as a restricted free agent, the Portland Trail Blazers matched Brooklyn’s deal and retained the guard on the aforementioned contract.
A year after the Trail Blazers swooped in to ensure Crabbe stayed in the Pacific Northwest, Crabbe will be packing his bags and heading to Brooklyn. As the saying goes, Sean Marks always gets his man — even if it takes a little longer than expected.
In a move to clear cap space, the Trail Blazers have traded Crabbe to the Nets in exchange for Andrew Nicholson. Portland’s decision to clear cap space could be in an attempt to acquire Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks.
In trading Crabbe and waiving Nicholson, who make $19,332,500 and $6,362,998 respectively, Portland frees up approximately enough space to take on Anthony, who makes $26,243,760 next year. The move could also have been made to free up some space for a potential Jusuf Nurkic extension, since he is eligible for his rookie extension before the start of the season.
For Crabbe, 25, Brooklyn may be the gateway to him becoming a full-time starter. Despite the hefty payday and an uptick in minutes, Crabbe only started seven games last year for Portland, playing behind budding star C. J. McCollum.
Starting for the Nets won’t be a guarantee and will depend on how Kenny Atkinson wants to manage lineups. Brooklyn currently has two starter-caliber guards in Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell, the former of which will likely be the team’s starting point guard in 2017-18.
Russell is listed as a point guard as well, but he had success playing off the ball with the Los Angeles Lakers with someone else as the primary ball handler. His 7’ wingspan should give him the length to guard shooting guards as well. Small forward could potentially be an option for Crabbe, but Atkinson has capable wings in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert and DeMarre Carroll.
Should Crabbe come off the bench, he’ll likely be Brooklyn’s 6th man and No. 1 option. LeVert and fellow guard Isaiah Whitehead were two bright spots for the Nets in another bleak season, but both are entering their second season while Crabbe is heading into his fifth.