Brooklyn took a big step toward that Thursday by agreeing to clear Allen Crabbe's contract in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets agreed to give up Crabbe, the No. 17 pick in this year's draft and a lottery-protected 2020 pick in exchange for Taurean Prince and a 2021 second-rounder, per Wojnarowski.
With Crabbe set to make $18.5 million in 2019-20, per Spotrac, this deal gives Brooklyn far more salary-cap space heading into a critical summer:
Albert Nahmad @AlbertNahmad
This trade will technically need to be completed in July, at which point Nets would create a $15.0M trade exception, which they could bypass in favor of: (i) $66M of cap room (enough for 2 maxes) or (ii) $46M of cap room plus D'Angelo Russell’s RFA rights. https://t.co/ZlKlq8SrA4
It could allow the Nets to form an exciting backcourt with Irving and D'Angelo Russell instead of having to choose between one of them.
Russell recently said he would welcome a free-agent addition like Irving this offseason, but he wasn't necessarily thrilled about the proposition.
"If we're being completely honest, I enjoyed the team that we had this whole season," Russell told Brian Lewis of the New York Post when asked about Irving. "If the situation was to come up to have pieces of his caliber around, it'll make us a better team obviously. But I'm not going to say I didn't enjoy our team, and the pieces we had around."
Irving seemingly has his eyes on Brooklyn, as ESPN's Stephen A. Smith discussed Tuesday on First Take:
With the Nets able to match whatever offer sheet Russell signs as a restricted free agent, they now have enough cap space to pair the two stars together.