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Brooklyn Nets strike out on two restricted free agents

Crabbe and Johnson are the ones that got away.

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you understand that the Celtics have the right to swap picks with the Brooklyn Nets next season and own their 2018 pick outright. So clearly any bad news for the Nets from a win-loss record is good news for the Celtics.

Working with very few draft resources, the Nets new general manager Sean Marks has tried this offseason to be creative in the free agent market.

First he signed Jeremy Lin to a 3 year, $36 million contract. Next he signed Justin Hamilton to a 2 year, $6 million deal and Trevor Booker to a 2 year, $18.5 million deal. Not exactly game changers, but reasonable value deals in this market.

Next he offered large contracts to two restricted free agents, Heat guard Tyler Johnson and Blazers guard Allen Crabbe. Here’s Jay King’s analysis of the two players.

Crabbe and Johnson are by no means superstars, but both are nice players, and Brooklyn's strategy to overpay them was a good one, particularly with the cap continuing to rise next year. Johnson is a 3-and-D guard with a ton of athleticism and nice upside who was stuck behind Dwyane Wade in Miami. He could be poised for a breakout season.

Crabbe, meanwhile, is a lanky, excellent shooter with the potential to defend multiple positions down the road. Neither player would have turned Brooklyn into a playoff team, but either one could have made them more competitive and, if the Nets ever acquired a star, could have been a nice role player on a good team.

Both deals were crafted in such a way as to dissuade the teams with matching rights from matching the deals. However, both the Heat and the Blazers picked the matching route, leaving the Nets scrambling for alternate plans.

It appears that one of those plans has already been put into motion.

Vasquez is a solid, if unspectacular player who should play his role in Brooklyn just fine. On a one-year deal he’s a good value as well (depending on the salary he gets).

It sounds like the Nets aren’t necessarily out of the restricted free agent offer sheet business either.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports:

For the Nets, one possibility on the market could be a run at Oklahoma City Thunder restricted free-agent guard Dion Waiters, league sources said. The Nets have given some consideration to an offer, but will likely evaluate that in the next few days, league sources said.

I’m skeptical that Waiters would give them anything other than stat-padding numbers, but there’s a chance that he could win them a few games here and there. Then again, there’s also a chance that the Thunder can’t afford to lose any other talented players and they may elect to match an offer sheet if it is produced by the Nets or any other team.

Another option for the Nets that we can keep an eye on is newly unrestricted free agent Jared Sullinger.

I respect the Nets general manager for looking under every rock and leaning forward looking for value players that could help his team make steps in the right direction. I wouldn’t put it past them to turn that team from a laughing-stock cellar dweller into a plucky, overachieving team that scrapes out a few wins.

Then again, with a lot of other lottery teams making improvements, the Nets could very well still be one of the bottom 5 teams in the league this year. At least that’s what Boston Celtics fans are hoping.

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