When the Brooklyn Nets signed Allen Crabbe to a 4-year, $75 million offer sheet last season, many regarded it is a poison pill contract. The Portland Trail Blazers matched, kept him; and screwed up their cap space. Now, in a bizarre twist, the Nets are trading for Crabbe, sending Andrew Nicholson to the Blazers.
It would have been one thing if Crabbe would have made further progress in coordination with his pay raise. But Crabbe averaged 10.7 points per game last season, with his per minute scoring dropping a bit. He did shoot very well from 3 (44.4%) and improved his numbers from the field (46.8%), but this move still has a lot of people wondering what Sean Marks is thinking.
Right now, the Nets are a very guard-heavy team, with Nicholson, a power forward, making his way to the Northwest (he’ll be released by the Blazers, who shedded some salary with the move). The Nets won’t miss his contribution much, but it does suggest there’s some imbalance in the roster that might need to be addressed.
Besides style and options it gives or takes away from Kenny Atkinson on the sidelines, there are cap repercussions. Maybe not this season, with Crabbe’s arrival taking the Nets from a $70 million payroll to a $83 million after you take away Nicholson’s part.
The Nets have Timofey Mozgov on the books through the 2019-2020 season. DeMarre Carroll is being paid $30 million over the next two seasons. Jeremy Lin is a free agent at the end of this season if he waives his $12.5 million player option, which seems likely if he stays healthy this time. D’Angelo Russell will be a RFA in 2019. Sean Kilpatrick is a free agent at the end of this season. A lot of questions to be asked and maybe answered in the 2018 and 2019 summers, which could clog the Nets cap.
Crabbe, 25, immediately becomes the highest paid player on the Nets, surpassing Mozgov. Atkinson and Sean Marks are clearly counting on a lot of small ball, very quick pace and outside shooting to be the bread & butter next season. Jeremy Lin said the Nets are going to make the playoffs. Crabbe is a better player than Nicholson and a good defender, but I don’t know how much closer the Nets get to stunning everyone and finishing in the top 8 by adding him to the team.
Crabbe is due to make $19.3 million next season, but he has a 15% trade kicker, which the Nets might ask him to waive.