It appears competition may be getting a bit stiffer for the Sixers in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets made a trade with the Hawks, trading guard Allen Crabbe, the 17th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a top-14 protected first-round pick in 2020 to Atlanta for Taurean Prince and a 2021 second-round pick, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
On the surface, the trade doesn’t seem like much, but the deal frees Brooklyn from Crabbe’s contract and would give the Nets two max cap spaces. In a loaded free-agent class, Kyrie Irving would appear to be the primary target.
According to Wojnarowski, Irving is seriously considering the Nets over the Knicks. With the extra max slot, Irving could try to convince Kevin Durant or Jimmy Butler to join him. And if they miss out on the top-tier free agents, someone like Tobias Harris, a Long Island native, could be an option.
They could also look at bringing back restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell. There have been reports that the Nets believe an Irving-Russell pairing “could not only coexist but thrive.” That doesn’t seem likely. Irving and Russell are both ball-dominant players that struggle defensively.
Still, there’s a chance this reported trade could give the Nets a boost and hurt the Sixers.
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