Sports | June 7, 2019 10:13 am

The Hottest Destination for NBA Free Agents Is … Brooklyn?

The Nets have enough salary-cap space to add two maximum free-agent contracts

A projected Brooklyn Nets logo. (Bruce Bennett/Getty)
A projected Brooklyn Nets logo. (Bruce Bennett/Getty)
Getty Images

On Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets made a seemingly minor move that could have major ramifications down the line and pave the way for the franchise to be a championship contender for years to come.

The Nets, who made a surprising run in the playoffs thanks to a young roster full of over-achievers, agreed to ship veteran guard Allen Crabbe and a pair of first-round draft picks to the Atlanta Hawks for young forward Taurean Prince and a second-round pick.

In addition to adding Prince, a fourth-year player with plenty of upside, the Nets also cleared Crabbe’s $18.5 million contract off their books which gives Brooklyn enough salary-cap space to add two maximum free-agent contracts this summer.

Kyrie Irving, who grew up in New Jersey (the Nets former home), is reportedly interested in signing with Brooklyn and ESPN reports both sides have a “strong mutual interest.” If that domino falls, it’s possible Golden State’s Kevin Durant, who has repeatedly been linked with the Knicks, could decide to take his talents to the other side of the East River.

Irving has also been linked to the Knicks, as well as the Lakers, in the past, but now Brooklyn sounds like it is his preferred destination. Of course, it’s always possible he just re-signs with the Celtics.

Should Irving and Durant land elsewhere, the Nets now also have enough cap room to retain guard D’Angelo Russell on a max — or near-max — deal and bring in another high-priced player to complement him.

Due to league rules, the Crabbe/Prince deal can’t be finalized until July 6.

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