On Thursday, the Brooklyn Nets made a trade that made a major splash in the summer free agency sweepstakes. They sent two first round draft picks (2018, 2020) and Allen Crabbe’s contract to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange Taurean Prince and a 2021 second round pick. With this trade, Brooklyn has the potential to have two max salary slots in the summer.
Although noted as a major market with free agency aspirations, Brooklyn has not been heavily linked to major free agents until now. Previously, the Knicks were expected to sign both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in addition to adding RJ Barrett or trading for another player with their 3rd overall pick. It seemed natural for Brooklyn to use their lone max slot to extend D’Angelo Russell, who became an All-Star with Brooklyn after being acquired from the Lakers last season.
Since then, it has been released that Kyrie Irving is intent on coming to Brooklyn in the offseason. If they let Russell walk in favor of Irving, the Nets would secure an absolute upgrade at point guard. Irving does everything Russell does at a higher level. Then, with the newly created cap space, they could add a superstar like Kevin Durant. These two superstars would have a hungry supporting cast including Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen that is led by a strong coach in Kenny Atkinson. Brooklyn would be a true contender for the first time since the days of Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson. Despite having the asset of the No. 3 overall pick and being linked to Durant all season, the Knicks dysfunction may have gotten the better of them yet again.
James Dolan has himself to blame if the Knicks strike out on Durant and Irving. That being said, the great management of Sean Marks has led the Nets out of the hell imposed by Billy King, and that deserves praise and reward. Over the past few seasons, he has made great moves to make the Nets competitive again. Now, he has brought them out of nowhere to become a contender for franchise changing free agents.