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How a Brooklyn Nets-Atlanta Hawks trade could affect the Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) pushes against Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) while waiting for a free-throw at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 16, 2019.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) pushes against Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) while waiting for a free-throw at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 16, 2019.
Deseret News

On the surface, a trade involving the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks wouldn't seem to have an impact on the Utah Jazz, but the one reported Thursday could have big implications.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Nets will trade guard Allen Crabbe, the 17th pick in June 20's draft and a 2020 first-round pick to the Hawks for forward Taurean Prince and a 2021 first-round pick.

Brooklyn is being viewed as a potentially significant player in free agency this summer, with Kyrie Irving being the most notable name linked to the Nets. By trading Crabbe's massive contract, Brooklyn is opening up about $18 million more in cap space it can use to sign free agents.

As cap expert Albert Nahmad noted on Twitter, the Nets can now open up about $68 million in cap space if they renounce their right to match another team's offer sheet for restricted free agent D'Angelo Russell (making him an unrestricted free agent). Russell has been linked as a possible target for the Jazz.

That $68 million would be enough for two max salary slots. By making the trade, Brooklyn is signaling that it wants to create such space and thus move on from Russell. Teams are able to go over the salary cap to re-sign their own free agents, but "cap holds" for free agents make it difficult to sign free agents from other teams before re-signing their own. Russell's cap hold is $21 million, which would go away if he is renounced.

If the Nets can only get one max salary player, they could bring back Russell, although if Irving is the player Brooklyn lands, how those two players fit together is questionable.

While Russell's potential future is the most significant part of the trade as it could relate to Utah, two other players to keep eyes on are free agent forward Tobias Harris and Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie.

First, Harris has been linked to both the Jazz and Brooklyn, but could he sign with the Nets in that second max salary slot to play in his native New York with a player such as Irving? Second, if the dominoes fall and the Nets get just one max player, would they keep Russell (an All-Star last season) but decide to trade Dinwiddie if Irving is the max player they land?

If Utah doesn't add a point guard in free agency but still wants to upgrade at the position externally, Dinwiddie would be a solid option, even if the Jazz would have to give something up to acquire him.

In essence, it's very possible Thursday's reported deal will end up having no impact on Utah when free agency begins on June 30, but it's also very possible that it could have a very large impact.