One year after signing a four-year restricted free-agent offer sheet from the Nets for $75 million, Allen Crabbe finally showed up in a Nets uniform Sunday night at Barclays Center. Crabbe’s debut was delayed after the Trail Blazers matched the offer sheet and kept him in Portland for a year, and then, he sat out the Nets’ first two preseason games with an ankle sprain.
But he made a great first impression with an 11-point first quarter that sent the 3-0 Nets on their way to 117-83 win over the Knicks. Crabbe totaled 14 points in just 10:46, including a 3-for-4 from three-point range.
The symbolism of Crabbe’s debut was not lost on Nets fans who might have grown impatient when general manager Sean Marks went 0-for-4 on offer sheets to restricted free agents before finally trading for Crabbe in July. Coach Kenny Atkinson said he and general manager Sean Marks “are 100 percent on the same page. We targeted Allen as a fit in our system. Tonight was a good start.
“We can talk about the points, but I like how he makes the simpler play. If it’s not there, he’ll make the next pass to the open guy. There is no extra waste of movement. Of course, it’s great if the shots go in, but he is a really good all-around basketball player.”
Crabbe had just two training-camp practices, but it was as if he rolled out of bed and fell neatly into Atkinson’s motion offense. And he worked hard at the defensive end, too, getting several deflections.
“Just watching the first two preseason games, just watching how the offense flows, it’s a perfect system for me,” Crabbe said. “I just came in with confidence. It’s a different feel here. When a coach is telling you to shoot more, it’s like the ultimate green light. So, I’m out there playing basketball freely, not thinking about anything, just letting the game come to me.
“I was kind of anxious. I knew I was going to have the minutes restriction, so, I wanted to do a little something. It was a good first preseason game. I was excited, and I’m just going to keep growing from this.”
Second-year wing Caris LeVert also made his season debut after recovering from a minor ankle sprain in training camp. LeVert didn’t come off the bench until 4:37 remained in the second quarter, but he looked spectacular with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
“Caris didn’t ease himself into the game,” Atkinson said. “He started with defensive high energy that was off the charts.”
D’Angelo Russell led six Nets in double figures with 16 points and added seven assists. The Nets held the Knicks to 38.3 percent shooting, outrebounded them, 48-40, had 29 assists, made 13 steals, forced 24 turnovers and led at one point by 38 points.