Brooklyn Nets value cap space, trade No. 27 pick to Clippers

Brooklyn Nets Mfiondu Kabengele (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Mfiondu Kabengele (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets cleared some more cap space Thursday night in advance of free agency when they traded their pick at No. 27 in the NBA Draft.

The Brooklyn Nets were on the clock with the 27th overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft when news broke they had traded to pick to the LA Clippers.

This appears to be a cap-space maneuver by Nets general manager Sean Marks. Trading the first-round pick clears the $1.97 million cap hold required for the guaranteed deal.

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That pushes their maximum available cap space for free agency to $68.67 million — just $2.18 million short of the $70.85 million needed to add much-talked-about free-agent targets Kyrie Irving (first-year salary of $32.7 million) and Kevin Durant (first-year salary of $38.15 million) on max deals.

With the acquired pick, the Clippers selected Florida State big man Mfiondu Kabengele, who becomes the second NCAA player taken in the first round Thursday to become a first-round pick without starting a game in college, joining North Carolina’s Nassir Little, who went to the Portland Trail Blazers with the 25th overall pick.

The Nets had earlier traded their own pick at No. 17 overall to the Atlanta Hawks, who flipped it Thursday afternoon to the New Orleans Pelicans. Brooklyn chose Virginia Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker on behalf of the Pelicans.

The No. 27 pick had been acquired last summer from the Denver Nuggets in the Kenneth Faried/Darrell Arthur salary dumps.

Brooklyn still holds the No. 31 overall pick, originally belonging to the New York Knicks, that was acquired in December 2017 in the deal that sent Trevor Booker to the Philadelphia 76ers and briefly brought Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas to the Nets.

The Nets also picked up the No. 56 overall pick from the Clippers, a pick that originated with Portland and wound its way through the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons before going to LA in the January 2018 trade that sent Blake Griffin to the Motor City and Tobias Harris to the Clips.

The 2020 first-round pick from the 76ers is lottery-protected.

It’s become apparent Marks’ goal is to maximize cap space to make a run at two stars in free agency. Clearing the cap hold for the No. 27 pick gets Brooklyn closer to having the room for Irving and Durant.

But opening that space would require Brooklyn to renounce the free-agent rights to all six of their pending free agents: DeMarre Carroll ($23.1 million cap hold), D’Angelo Russell ($21.06 million), Jared Dudley ($14.3 million), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($7.41 million), Ed Davis ($5.34 million) and Theo Pinson ($1.64 million).

They would also have to waive the non-guaranteed contracts of Shabazz Napier ($1.85 million) and Treveon Graham ($1.65 million).

That would get Brooklyn to the $68.67 million figure cited earlier.

To open up the additional $2.18 million, the Nets have the following salaries under contract for next season:

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So the maneuvering is likely not quite done yet for Marks and the Nets.