Nets making money moves, clearing space for max contracts

Vincent Davis | 6/13/2019, 11:31 a.m.
Along with free agency comes innuendo, head-scratching gossip, the wildest of scenarios.
Sean Marks Contributed

Along with free agency comes innuendo, head-scratching gossip, the wildest of scenarios. The only scenario that we haven’t heard this far is the New Orleans Pelicans, who’ll draft first later this month, and the Memphis Grizzlies, drafting second, may pass up on drafting Zion Williamson, the projected No. 1 pick from Duke, leaving him available to be chosen by the New York Knicks. But that’s how outlandish the speculation can get.

Making money moves are the Brooklyn Nets who are sending Allan Crabbe and their No. 17 pick in the 2019 NBA draft and a 2020 lottery-protected first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for forward Taurean Prince and a 2021 second-round pick, league sources said. If the Nets’ 2020 first-round pick falls in the protected range, picks 1 through 14 in 2020, Atlanta will get the Nets’ first-round protected pick in 2021. Deals cannot be finalized until July 6.

This now gives Sean Marks, Brooklyn’s general manager, salary-cap space (a reported $68-plus million) for the team to now pursue two top tier max free-agent contracts this summer. Re-signing all-star guard D’Angelo Russell is also on his list of things to do.

Prince is a 25-year-old, 6-foot-8, 220 pound small forward from Baylor, drafted 12th in the first-round by the Utah Jazz in 2016. He was then traded to the Hawks. Last season he averaged 13.5 points.

Crabbe, 27, 6-foot-6, a former Pac-12 Player of the Year at California, a small forward/shooting guard on Brooklyn’s books for $18.5 million, is a six-year NBA veteran. He averaged 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, due to injuries, in the 43 games that he played this season.

Brooklyn’s unexpected rise to the sixth-seed this season, after failing to make the playoffs for several, have made them a more attractive destination, now part of the conversation with free-agents.

Brooklyn has come from last place in 2016-17, 22 wins and 60 losses, to 12th in 2017-2018, 28 and 54, to a 42 and 40 record this year, rising faster than projected, and becoming a more stable franchise since Marks, a graduate of the San Antonio Spurs front office, took over in February of 2016.

Marks and the other 29 NBA GMs will make their picks and front office decisions officially on Thursday, June 20, the NBA Draft and Monday, June 30, the start of free agency.