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Zach Lowe: Nets should try to dump Allen Crabbe in Jimmy Butler deal

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NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Let the speculation begin!

Zach Lowe takes a crack at what each team on Jimmy Butler’s list —plus a host of others— could offer the Timberwolves for the four-time All-Star.

His suggested deal for the Nets? Caris LeVert, Allen Crabbe, Kenneth Faried and the Denver first round pick this year (protected 1 through 11) for Butler and power forward Gorgui Dieng.

If the Butler market gets frothy enough, Brooklyn can grease the wheels with this offer in which they absorb Dieng:

Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert, Kenneth Faried, and Denver’s top-12 protected first-round pick for Butler and Dieng.

That saves Minnesota about $2 million in 2018-19 salary. Renounce everyone in July -- including D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, who play a sort of important position -- and Brooklyn could eke out another max slot.

The Wolves would surely prefer DeMarre Carroll, on an expiring deal, over Crabbe, but the Nets have no realistic way to clear that second max slot and take Dieng without jettisoning Crabbe man. Removing both Crabbe and Dieng unlocks some simpler deals.

At first blush, this looks like a lot for Brooklyn to give up. LeVert is good. But he also projects as someone who could top out as the fourth-best player on a good team. Denver’s pick could end up No. 20 or worse. Ditching Crabbe’s deal is a plus. If the Nets think Butler is worth $190 million and can attract a good star, they would think about this.

Dieng, who averaged 5.9 points and 4.6 rebounds last season, is owed $48 million over three years.

Lowe in essence thinks that the Nets would be best served by dumping Crabbe who is owed $37 million over the next two years (but has a player option this June for half of that.) Based on public comments, including those at Tuesday’s press conference, the Nets don’t seem to believe that. Both Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have been very positive on Crabbe.

Lowe makes no predictions but warns such speculation could drag into the season.