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With Allen Crabbe opting in, trade speculation will jump

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

No surprise. As Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Friday, Allen Crabbe has opted into his player option for next season...

Although the move was expected, the early decision by Crabbe will now permit the Nets to entertain trades. NBA rules prohibit teams from trading players with outstanding player or team options this time of year.

Crabbe had already given up a $5 million trade kicker to join the Nets two years ago.

Unless there is a trade, Crabbe’s decision will complicate the Nets salary cap situation this summer. By most estimates, the Nets will have around $30 million in space this summer, barely enough for even one superstar free agent. Freeing up Crabbe’s contract will give the Nets a lot more flexibility ... as would a few minor moves on the roster’s fringe.

The Nets are expected to offer one or more of their draft picks, perhaps a good young player, to get teams interested in Crabbe’s expiring deal. He was troubled most of the year with a sore knee and underwent arthroscopic surgery on April 4, further hurting his value. He had his worst year in the last four seasons, failing to break 10 points a game and shooting 37.8 percent from deep. He played only 43 games.

Marks has hinted that he’d be willing to deal picks — the Nets have the 17th (their own); the 27th (the Nuggets) and 31st picks (the Knicks) — if it fits with their offseason strategy.

“Obviously if the right guys are there and the guys that we’re targeting in the draft, we’ll welcome him, we’ll develop him, we’ll love him, and care for him like we do everybody else,” said Marks at the postseason press conference. “And if we feel that maybe, strategically, it’s more in line with what we’re trying to do is to move one, two, or all, we’ll go from there and see where it goes.”

One possibility that has been rumored is a trade between the Nets and Cavaliers in which the Nets trade Crabbe and another asset for J.R. Smith’s expiring deal.

Because he signed his current contract under the old CBA, his salary next year will count as $15.7 million for trade purposes. However, as long he’s waived by June 30, his salary would count as $3.6 million — his guarantee — for salary cap purposes.

In theory, the Nets could trade Crabbe and whatever else the Cavs would want for Smith and then stretch his $3.6 million guarantee over three years, a $1.2 million hit, less than a vets minimum deal, through 2021-22. Problem is that there will be competition for Smith’s sweet deal and that means Cleveland will demand a lot.

That kind of deal isn’t likely to get done until just before the June 20 NBA Draft.

The Nets acquired the 6’6” Crabbe in July 2017, sending Andrew Nicholson to the Blazers. Nicholson, part of the cost of acquiring the 22nd pick in the 2017 draft (which turned out to be Jarrett Allen.) The Nets had signed Crabbe to a $75 million offer sheet the year before.