Despite enjoying a career-best season where he played in his first All-Star Game and led the Brooklyn Nets to their first playoff appearance since 2015, D’Angelo Russell hasn’t been getting as much attention as most of the other star players expected to enter free agency this summer. As pointed out by HoopsHype, part of that is because the Nets have more than enough salary cap space to re-sign Russell in the offseason. But with Brooklyn shaping up as a potential dark horse candidate to sign top-tier free agents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the outlet added that it’s also possible that the 23-year-old point guard would take his talents elsewhere as a free agent.
As previously reported by Arizona Sports, Russell’s friendship with Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker led to rumors linking him to Phoenix, though Russell ultimately admitted that he was unaware that such rumors existed. In its report, HoopsHype noted that there could be two other teams that could shape up as legitimate candidates to pry him from the Nets this summer — the Orlando Magic and the Dallas Mavericks.
Talking about how D’Angelo Russell could help the Magic, HoopsHype‘s Frank Urbina wrote that he could fulfill two of their most glaring needs by providing additional scoring punch and serving as a “dynamic” playmaker alongside their frontcourt of Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and Nikola Vucevic. Urbina, however, cautioned that the Magic would need to do a number of things in order to improve their chances of signing Russell, such as trading away erstwhile starting point guard D.J. Augustin and dumping backup center Timofey Mozgov’s expensive contract.
“That may seem like a lot to go through for just one player, but the Magic badly need a guard who can score in bunches, and one with Russell’s blend of current production and remaining upside is not easy to find,” Urbina wrote, adding that Russell would be a “much safer bet” for Orlando than one of their pre-trade deadline acquisitions, injury-prone former No. 1 overall draft pick Markelle Fultz.
Regarding the Dallas Mavericks, HoopsHype‘s Urbina explained that the team could “extremely easily” find a way to clear up cap space to sign Russell, who could team with 2019 Rookie of the Year candidate Luka Doncic and recently acquired big man Kristaps Porzingis to form a “ridiculously potent” core.
On the other hand, Urbina hinted at a potential caveat if D’Angelo Russell somehow ends up with the Mavericks — the possibility that the team might struggle with two ball-dominant guards in the same starting lineup. He added, however, that Russell and the Nets played well despite how Russell’s fellow guards Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie also got a lot of touches.
Despite the presence of the Suns, Magic, and Mavericks as possible suitors for Russell, Urbina concluded his piece by predicting that the youthful point guard is still more likely than not to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets. The HoopsHype contributor explained that this is because it “isn’t all that probable” that the Nets will sign two superstar free agents this summer and consequently not have enough cap space to offer an acceptable deal to their prized backcourt star.