Photo / Bruce Ely

Offer Matched, Crabbe Puts Free Agency Stress Behind Him

by Cody Sharrett

Though he entered the COX Pavilion in Las Vegas to watch the Trail Blazers Summer League matchup with the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night wearing sneakers and Blazer game shorts, things couldn't be any more different from the past three years of summer ball for Allen Crabbe. 

Instead of starring for the Summer League team as he did a year ago, Crabbe arrived in Vegas Sunday to celebrate the Blazers matching a lucrative offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets to lure him away from Portland as a restricted free agent. Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey's matched offer came as relief for Crabbe, an affirmation of the belief the organization has in the 24-year-old guard. 

"The stress is off," Crabbe told reporters. "I thought free agency was gonna be fun, but it definitely was stressful. I’m glad it’s over with; I’m glad to be back in Portland. I’m glad it’s over and now I can focus on just getting back in the gym working out and getting ready for the season."

Crabbe signed the offer sheet with Brooklyn late Thursday evening, serving as a catalyst for a nerve-racking 72 hours as he waited for the Blazers to answer. 

"Obviously, I knew Portland was still interested, but you just never know what could happen. I understand it’s a business as well, but I’m glad that Portland matched it. It showed a lot, it showed how much they value me. I’m glad to be in Portland. I’ve been here my whole career and I’m glad to continue on with it the next four years."

Crabbe averaged a career-high 10.4 for points on 39.4% shooting from deep in 26 minutes per game during his third season as a pro in 2015-16, mostly off the bench. While a starting role has not been discussed between Crabbe and the front office and coaching staff, the Cal-Berkeley product is focused on putting the team first to benefit both himself and Portland in the future. 

"At the end of the day, every player who makes it to the NBA wants to start," Crabbe put it bluntly. "But I know my role… Just go in and do what I’ve been doing my entire career, you know? Just doing what I have to do to help the team out: what can I do to be successful, what can I do to help the team be successful. Plain and simple, that’s all it is."

With a new contract, Crabbe knows expectations will change. But as the Blazers work to transform from underdog to Western Conference contender, Crabbe believes his own expectations will develop alongside his team's.

"I feel like we’re really gonna be a problem in the West," the Los Angeles native said. "We added some new pieces, and I’m really excited with what we’re working with going into the season."

Added Crabbe: "We’ve got a bunch of competitive guys; I feel like we’re gonna be ready for anything. People doubted us; we beat those expectations. People are probably gonna have another expectation of us this year.

"I feel like we’re going to exceed whatever we put our minds to."