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Taurean Prince making Nets' trade of Allen Crabbe to Hawks even better

Taurean Prince of the Nets reacts after a

Taurean Prince of the Nets reacts after a three-point basket against the Knicks at Barclays Center on Oct. 25. Credit: Jim McIsaac

ATLANTA — The primary reason the Nets traded Allen Crabbe to the Hawks last June was to clear enough salary-cap space for their successful pursuit of free agents Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. But while they also gave up first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, the Nets received Taurean Prince and an unprotected second-round pick in 2021.

It was a win-win in terms of helping both teams achieve their long-term agendas. The Hawks used the No. 17 overall pick acquired from the Nets as part of a deal with the Pelicans to move up and get the No. 4 pick to draft DeAndre Hunter, and they still have the Nets’ lottery-protected first-round pick next June. Meanwhile Prince has stepped into the Nets’ starting lineup as the stretch power forward they needed.

Playing against the Hawks for the first time since the trade, Prince came up big with a 23-point game that included 5-for-7 shooting from three-point range to help the Nets score a 130-118 victory Wednesday night at State Farm Arena. “I was 100 percent motivated, especially being the team that traded me away,” said Prince, whose family made the trip with him to visit old friends. “That was part of it. It’s sweet to be back. I love the city of Atlanta.”

The Hawks informed Prince before the game that he would be honored with a video tribute, and he appreciated it. But there was no question he was a man on a mission in a larger role with the Nets.

Describing how his game has changed with the Nets, Prince said, “Patience, just taking what the defense gives me, not really calling for the ball as much, learning how to play off other people, other talents. And raising my level on the defensive end as well . . . There’s just a lot more trust given to me, a lot more situations I’m put in to be great. Credit to the Brooklyn Nets for allowing me to be myself.”

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