NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets took Florida State forward Mfiondu Kabengele with the No. 27 selection in the first round of the NBA draft Thursday night, and Georgia 7-footer Nic Claxton with the first pick of the second round.
The 6-foot-10, 256-pound Kabengele is strong inside and has good touch from 3-point range, making 37% from beyond the arc in two seasons with the Seminoles. The 217-pound Claxton made a big jump in his sophomore season, leading the Southeastern Conference in blocked shots and going from 3.9 points per game as a freshman to 13.0 in 2018-19.
The Nets acquired the pick they used to take Kabengele from Denver in a 2018 salary dump by the Nuggets. The No. 31 overall pick used on Claxton came by way of the Knicks in previous deals.
Officially, the Nets owned the 17th pick coming into draft night, too, but two weeks ago they agreed to trade that and guard Allen Crabbe, along with a 2020 first-round selection, to Atlanta. That pick was used to take Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who is on his way New Orleans after a draft-day deal between the Pelicans and Hawks.
Brooklyn received forward Taurean Prince and a 2021 second-round pick in the deal, but more importantly the Nets cleared more room under the salary cap.
The Nets were already in position to be able to afford a max salary player in a loaded free-agent class that includes Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving. Moving Crabbe’s 18.5 million salary for 2019-20, moves them closer to being able to sign two stars. And they might not be done dealing.
The Nets made a surprising run to the playoffs last season, behind the emergence of guard D’Angelo Russell and a core of young players that includes Caris Levert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. Brooklyn lost to Philadelphia in the first round.
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