Trail Blazers trade Allen Crabbe to Nets to save roughly $60 million

Henry Bushnell
Allen Crabbe is heading to Brooklyn. (Getty)

The Portland Trail Blazers have traded backup guard Allen Crabbe to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for reserve forward Andrew Nicholson, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a move that will save the Blazers around $60 million in combined salary and luxury-tax outlay.

Following the completion of the trade, Portland will waive and stretch Nicholson, according to Wojnarowski. That means the $19.9 million remaining on the original four-year, $26 million deal he signed with the Washington Wizards last summer will be stretched out over seven seasons, mitigating the annual cap hit by extending it over the next three years.

After using the waive-and-stretch provision on Nicholson, the Blazers will have cut over $16 million off their books for the 2017-18 season. Crabbe, who signed one of many overly lucrative contracts last season, was entering the second year of a four-year, $75 million deal that will pay him $19.3 million this upcoming season. The Nicholson cap hit will total less than $3 million.

Shaving off $16 million in salary, plus $43.9 million in luxury tax payments, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marx and The Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps, means the Blazers will save roughly $60 million total as a result of the trade. And that only includes 2017-18’s books; Crabbe is owed $18.5 million in each of the following two seasons, as well.

The Nets, ironically, were the team that forced Portland to overpay Crabbe last offseason. Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks signed Crabbe, then a restricted free agent, to a $75 million offer sheet last summer that included a 15 percent trade kicker. Portland — perhaps regretfully — matched the offer sheet. Crabbe averaged 10.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in the first year of the deal.

Because the Nets were the team to extend the initial offer sheet, the two clubs had to wait to complete the trade until a calendar year had passed since the offer sheet was signed. Crabbe, according to Wojnarowski, agreed to waive his trade kicker, which lessens the salary burden on Brooklyn.

But the Nets will still be paying Crabbe $56.3 million over the next three years. Their only compensation was the ability to get out of Nicholson’s contract, which was significantly less cumbersome.

Washington signed Nicholson to a four-year, $26 million deal last summer, then quickly bailed on that mistake. The Wizards cut their losses midseason, dumping his salary on the Nets by packaging it with their 2017 first-round pick in a trade that sent wing shooter Bojan Bogdanovic to D.C.

So the Crabbe-Nicholson trade is essentially a salary dump for a salary dump.

It’s not the first big contract Brooklyn is taking on, either. The Nets will pay Crabbe, Timofey Mozgov and DeMarre Carroll almost $100 million over the next two seasons. Their reward for taking on those three contracts, from three separate trades, is essentially D’Angelo Russell, Texas center Jarrett Allen (the 2017 first-round choice they got from the Wizards), a 2018 second-round pick, and the opportunity to rid themselves of the contracts of Nicholson and Justin Hamilton. They received a lottery-protected 2018 first-round pick in the Raptors trade, but sent the rights to 2017 first-rounder Kyle Kuzma to the Lakers in the Russell trade.

The difference here is that the Nets are getting a player that they always wanted. Still, Crabbe’s contract is way above market value, and it’s a surprise that the Nets weren’t able to also coax a draft pick out of Portland.

The trade also could give the Blazers sufficient financial flexibility to get involved in a Carmelo Anthony trade — even if they’re not the team actually receiving Anthony. A report Monday night from former Blazers broadcaster Mike Rice suggested the Blazers would be part of a three-team deal that would send Anthony elsewhere. If Anthony’s destination is Houston, Portland could be set to take on the contract of Ryan Anderson. If they do, the Crabbe trade will make Anderson’s salary much easier to stomach.