The Brooklyn Nets, seeking salary cap relief in an effort to woo free agent Kyrie Irving, traded shooting guard Allen Crabbe and his hefty contract plus draft picks to the Atlanta Hawks for small forward Taurean Prince.

Allen Crabbe Nets
Allen Crabbe of the Brooklyn Nets playing at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY in 2019. (Image: AP)

Crabbe is due to make $18.5 million next season, while Prince will earn a modest $3.5 million. The Brooklyn Nets cleared space in an effort to pursue free agent Kyrie Irving, even though Irving has been linked to the New York Knicks and either of the Los Angeles teams.

The Nets finished 42-40 last season and made the playoffs as the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nets were eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs by Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia Sixers.

BROOKLYN/ATLANTA TRADE:
Nets Acquire: SF Taurean Prince, 2021 Second Round Pick

Hawks Acquire: G Allen Crabbe, 2019 First Round Pick (#17), 2020 First Round

The Nets shipped Allen Crabbe, the #17 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, plus a lottery-protected 2020 first round pick to the Hawks in exchange for Taurean Prince and a 2021 second round selection.

Prince, a former first round pick out of Baylor (#12 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft), averaged 13.5 points per game with the Hawks last season. two seasons ago, he started all 82 games for the Hawks and averaged a career-high 14.1 points per game.

Crabbe played his collegiate ball at Cal. The Cleveland Cavs drafted him late in the second round in the 2013 NBA Draft. Crabbe averaged 9.6 points in 43 games with the Nets this season. He started 68 games two seasons ago in Brooklyn and averaged a career-high 13.2 points per game. Over his six-year career, Crabbe averaged 9.5 points per game.

The Nets/Hawks deal become official when the offseason begins on July 6.

Kyrie Among the Hipsters?

The Nets made moves for one specific reason: get Kyrie Irving.

Nets GM Sean Marks cleared enough room for two max free agent contracts. They will be competing with the Knicks for top talent like Irving and Kevin Durant.

The Nets have two major benefits going for them over their crosstown rivals. For one, Brooklyn is located in the biggest media market in America, aka New York City. Secondly, free agents can come to NYC without having to play for the inept Knicks franchise.

D’Angelo Russell, 23, emerged as a legit All-Star this past season in Brooklyn. He averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game and shot nearly 37 percent from three-point range.

Russell will be a restricted free agent in the offseason. The Nets could use their cap space to re-sign Russell plus another top player like Kyrie or KD. Or is all this Kyrie talk just a pipe dream?

Russell left the city on hazy terms. Shortly after the Nets bounced from the playoffs, the TSA at LaGuardia Airport busted Russell for trying to sneak marijuana on a flight to his home in Louisville.

Meanwhile, the Hawks are in rebuilding mode. They already have a potential superstar with Trae Young. Plus, they have a pair of first round picks in the upcoming draft. Word got out that the NY Knicks were shopping their #3 lottery pick to the Hawks. The Knicks were interested in trading down for the Hawks’ #10 and #13 picks.

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