Brooklyn Nets: Moving Allen Crabbe should be top offseason priority

Brooklyn Nets Allen Crabbe (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Allen Crabbe (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

The time is now for the Brooklyn Nets to move on from Allen Crabbe as the team looks ahead to a potentially pivotal offseason in its long rebuild.

Sean Marks took on one of the NBA’s most difficult tasks in 2016 when he was appointed general manager of the Brooklyn Nets. He had to fix a roster bereft of talent, without the benefit of valuable draft picks or any cap space.

Remarkably, in just the third full season after his appointment, the Nets were the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.

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The New Zealand native made shrewd trades and draft selections and, thanks in large part to the work of coach Kenny Atkinson, transformed the outside perception of this Nets team.

Now, this summer, for the first time, Marks will go into the offseason knowing he has cap space and draft picks and the franchise will be in contention for some of the marquee free agents available.

With Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and more big names primed to hit the market, the Nets have a chance to finally land a blue-chip player and take that next step into becoming actual contenders in this league.

Perhaps the one blip on Marks’ record with the Nets so far has been the acquisition of Allen Crabbe and his contract from Portland.

Crabbe was one of four players the Nets signed to an offer sheet during Marks’ first two summers in charge and the team ended up trading journeyman Andrew Nicholson for the shooting guard in the 2017 offseason.

While he only finished behind Kyle Korver in 3-point percentage during that 2016-17 season after hitting 44.4 percent of his triples, Crabbe regressed over the next two seasons with the Nets.

His success rate dropped down to 37.8% over the past two seasons even as he increased his volume from 3.8 3-pointers attempted during that 2016-17 season to 6.5 during his time in Brooklyn.

While those 3-point shooting numbers remain slightly above average, Crabbe is one-dimensional on offense. He is mostly a shooter and really struggles when opponents are able to run him off the 3-point line.

He shot an abysmal 34.2 percent on 2-pointers last season, one of the lowest percentages in the league and, incredibly, below his success rate on 3-pointers.

The former Trail Blazer missed 39 games this season with a knee injury, including the playoff run. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, Crabbe recently exercised his $18.5 million team option for next season, far more than what he would command on the open market.

After an injury-riddled two years, it is now the right time for Sean Marks to acknowledge a mistake and end the Allen Crabbe experiment.

According to Basketball-Reference, Crabbe had a negative (minus-0.1) VORP (Value over replacement player), meaning he was actually worse than a replacement-level free agent.

Factoring in the approximately $5.5 million the Nets still have to pay Deron Williams next year after his buyout, Brooklyn are on course to shell out nearly $25 million of a $109 million salary cap to players who are either below replacement level or out of the league.

That can’t happen for a playoff team ready to turn into contenders.

And while there’s nothing Marks can do about the Williams deal that was initiated by his predecessor, there is something he can about Crabbe and it should be the first thing on his offseason checklist.

Moving Crabbe might require sacrificing one of the picks from this year’s draft, but it would give the franchise much needed financial flexibility as they navigate through this vital summer.

Without the burden of his enormous salary, the Nets would have a clear path to two max free agent slots if they choose to renounce rights to D’Angelo Russell as well.

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If they choose to keep Russell on board, no Crabbe would mean Marks would be able to add a max-level free agent and some key role players to help in a playoff run.