This scenario is both the simplest and easiest. Thus, it is also the least likely to happen.
Financially, Allen Crabbe‘s $18.5 million salary for this season matches up the most closely with the $20.4 million Butler is due in 2018-19.
Crabbe also has a player option for 2019-20 also worth $18.5 million.
According to the ESPN Trade Machine, the Nets would improve by 10 wins in this scenario, while Minnesota would become 11 games worse.
The Nets have been high on Crabbe for some time. Brooklyn signed him to the terms of his current contract, four years and $75 million with a player option for the fourth year, when Crabbe agreed to the Nets offer sheet as a restricted free agent in July 2016.
The Portland Trail Blazers matched the offer, but traded Crabbe to the Nets in July 2017 in exchange for forward Andrew Nicholson as Portland was trying to shed some salary.
Crabbe had an uneven first season as a starter for Brooklyn. After averaging 10.7 points in 28.5 minutes per game as a reserve with the Trail Blazers in 2016-17, shooting .468/.444/.847, Crabbe struggled with his shooting stroke last season.
He started 68 of the 75 games he played and averaged 13.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in 29.3 minutes a night, but his shooting fell off to .407/.378/.852.
Crabbe did improve markedly after the All-Star break, shooting .435/.414/.878 over those 20 games after putting up a .397/.363/.840 slash line in his first 55 appearances.
The first-round pick acquired from the Denver Nuggets in the trade that sent Isaiah Whitehead to Denver and brought Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur (however briefly) to Brooklyn is top-12 protected through 2024, at which point it would become second-round picks in 2024 and 2025.
But Denver is not likely to be a lottery team this season, so it’s a relatively safe bet that this would be a first-round pick somewhere in the middle to lower-middle.
It allows Brooklyn to sweeten the deal a bit without threatening their own first-round draft pick, which they haven’t owned since 2013 and still stands to be better than Denver’s selection, even with the addition of Butler.