D’Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets have succeeded in surpassing the expectations set for them in the 2018-19 NBA season. Despite not having a legitimate NBA superstar on their roster, the Nets managed to finish the regular season as the No. 6 seed to earn a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Though they suffered a first-round exit at the hands of the star-studded Philadelphia 76ers, the Nets will now have the opportunity to build a roster that can legitimately contend for the NBA championship title in the 2019 NBA offseason.
The Nets could open up enough salary cap space to chase the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and Kemba Walker in the 2019 NBA free agency. Before looking at other NBA superstars, most people expect the Nets to focus on bringing D’Angelo Russell back. However, given his performance during the 2018-19 NBA season, the Nets might be needing to break the bank to re-sign Russell. According to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, the former No. 2 overall pick is expected to demand a contract that will pay him $27 million per year next July.
“The young guard has bought in, worked on his body and his defense, and become an All-Star, the first one the Nets have developed since Brook Lopez in 2012-13. But he’s got a $21.1 million cap hold, and could get a max offer from a point guard-hungry team. That would be $27 million, which league sources have intimated is what Russell wants. The Nets haven’t shown themselves to being convinced he’s worth that much, and could well let the market decide.”
The hyper-optimized Brooklyn Nets, the rise of D’Angelo Russell and the late season playoff push that will double as free agent audition this summer: https://t.co/KS3F3K2c1r
— Seerat Sohi (@seeratsohi) April 23, 2019
D’Angelo Russell has undeniably taken his game to a whole new level in his second year of playing in Brooklyn. In the 81 games that he played this season, the 23-year-old point guard averaged 21.1 points, 7.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals on 43.4 percent shooting from the field and 36.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. However, as Lewis revealed, the Nets still don’t see Russell as a player who is worth the max.
According to Nets Daily, if D’Angelo Russell won’t be able to reach an agreement with the Nets regarding his next contract, he could start entertaining offers from other NBA teams. Aside from the Nets, some of the NBA teams who could create more than $20 million in salary cap space next summer include the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, and the Dallas Mavericks. However, since most of those teams already have a young, starting-caliber point guard on their roster, only the Knicks, Pacers, and Mavericks are expected to try to steal Russell from the Nets in free agency.