Allen Crabbe: The Deal the Portland Trail Blazers Messed Up

Allen Crabbe headed into restricted free agency after last season. He was a relatively unused player in his first two NBA seasons. He averaged just 6.7 minutes as a rookie in 15 games and his sophomore season he played just 13.4 minutes a night and in 51 games. His third year he was given his chance to shine and he rewarded Portland. He played in 81 games and was a valuable rotation player. He averaged 26 minutes a night while scoring 10.3 points, making 1.4 three-pointers, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 0.8 turnovers per game. He shot 45.9% from the field, 39.3% from three-point land, and 86.7% from the free throw line.

Heading into free agency after that season at just 24 years old, he was in line for a big payday and rightfully so. This is where Portland made a mistake, though.

The Offer

The Brooklyn Nets a team looking for any young talent they could get their hands on offered Allen Crabbe (http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/crabbal01.html) a 4-year and $75 million contract. The cap was skyrocketing and will continue to go up in the coming seasons, so the Blazers justified matching the deal, but the value just wasn’t there.

The Facts

According to ESPN (http://www.espn.com/nba/salaries), Allen Crabbe is the 23rd highest paid player in the NBA this season making $18.5 million. He is making more money than Paul George (age 26), Kyrie Irving (age 24), Kawhi Leonard (age 25), and Jimmy Butler (age 27) just to name a few. Kyrie Irving is just one month older than Crabbe and Crabbe has never performed to anywhere near Irving's level in the NBA to this point.

He is scheduled to make another $18.5 million next season and over $19 million in 2018-2019. Even if that becomes the 50th highest paid player by that time, do we have any evidence Crabbe at age 26 will be the 50th best player? The value just never matches up for me.

The one ray of hope for Portland was perhaps Allen Crabbe would continue to improve and have a C.J. McCollum breakout type season. Crabbe has shown no signs of that. He is playing 3 more minutes per game this season, but averaging the same points while shooting worse from the field, three-point, and free throw lines. It has been disappointing, to say the least.

Advanced Metrics

If you view advanced metrics, they still don’t justify the contract. Crabbe had a value over replacement player (VORP) of 0.7 last year. He had win shares per 48 minutes of 0.098 or slightly worse than the league average of 0.100. Those numbers were improved over his first two seasons, so you paid through the nose thinking he only gets better and this season he regresses to a negative 0.1 VORP and 0.052 win shares per 48. Now there is still time in the season to improve those numbers, but he isn’t going to reach the level the of the contract’s value.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is any way you slice the Portland Trail Blazers made a mistake matching the contract on Allen Crabbe. When the Nets offered $75 million, the Blazers should have let Crabbe walk. It was just too much money for Crabbe even if he improves significantly in the next two seasons.


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