Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Allen Crabbe, Spencer Dinwiddie
Brooklyn Nets: Pau Gasol, Quincy Pondexter
A lot has to fall into place for this trade to pique the interests of both parties.
The Nets aren’t looking to move Spencer Dinwiddie. He became extension-eligible Dec. 8, and they’re hoping to keep him around long term, per Wojnarowski. But D’Angelo Russell is a restricted free agent this summer, and they have to start thinking about Caris LeVert’s next contract (extension-eligible in July).
Thoroughly reinvesting in a core that hasn’t yet needled its way into the postseason discussion is out of the question. The Nets are still rebuilding, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is headed for restricted free agency as well. They can’t pay everyone. The Dinwiddie-Russell combination feels like an either-or situation.
Brooklyn could try parlaying one of them into a first-round pick. That’ll be tough. Plenty of teams have money to pitch them this summer, and front offices are hesitant to pony up assets for non-stars nearing hefty raises. Dinwiddie is especially hard to evaluate as a trade asset. He’s not a restricted free agent, so if the Nets don’t give him an extension, he can walk free and clear.
Turning him into extra cap space is enticing if they believe in their curb appeal. Subbing out Allen Crabbe’s $18.5 million salary next year with Pau Gasol’s $6.7 million guarantee—that number could go down in a potential buyout—gives them a cakewalk to more than $50 million in spending power if they don’t overpay Russell.
Crabbe is an integral part of the rotation, but he’s a standstill specialist who doesn’t do much else. The Nets overvalued him in 2016 free agency (admittedly, so did yours truly), and then again when they traded for him in 2017. They shouldn’t make that mistake again.
The Spurs, meanwhile, are in a weird spot. FiveThirtyEight gives them less than a 5 percent chance of making the playoffs. They could throw in the towel and look to regroup next year with a high draft pick, but they prioritized a win-now centerpiece, DeMar DeRozan, in the Kawhi Leonard trade. They also cannot bank on much changing between now and next year, aside from Dejounte Murray’s return.
“But it’s not like the rest of their books clear up this summer,” Vice Sports’ Michael Pina wrote. “Patty Mills, Davis Bertans, Marco Belinelli, Bryn Forbes, Derrick White, and Jakob Poeltl are all under contract in 2020. Instead of selling off [LaMarcus] Aldridge and DeRozan, dangling Rudy Gay or Belinelli in an attempt to get younger while increasing their shot at a higher pick makes sense. What doesn’t is heading the other way, trading an asset for more immediate help just to make the playoffs.”
Going the Crabbe-Dinwiddie route would be a nice middle ground. Paying Crabbe next season isn’t a huge deal when the Spurs won’t have cap space until 2020 or 2021 anyway, and they flat-out need wings. Dinwiddie gives them another shot creator who doesn’t truncate their spacing, and his length affords him honorary wing status against certain defensive matchups.
San Antonio would have to make this deal with the intention of keeping him. That’s not a problem. Dinwiddie can work as a sixth man or backcourt starter beside Murray, with DeRozan remaining at the 3, into 2019-20 and beyond.
Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com, Cleaning the Glass and Basketball Reference and accurate leading into games on Dec. 10. Salary and cap-hold information via Basketball Insiders and RealGM.