Despite not having a legitimate NBA superstar on their roster, the Brooklyn Nets still managed to establish an impressive performance in the 2018-19 NBA season, earning a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference to end their three-year postseason drought. However, the Nets aren’t expected to be content as a playoff contender. In the 2019 NBA offseason, the Nets are planning to aggressively build a roster that can legitimately contend for the NBA championship title.
The Nets are entering the summer of 2019 loaded with enough salary cap space to go after two (or more) big names on the free agency market. D’Angelo Russell, who recently earned his first BA All-Star selection, may have been the Nets’ best player in the 2018-19 NBA season, but he won’t be the Nets’ No. 1 priority in the 2019 NBA offseason. According to Ian Begley of SportsNet New York, the Nets may not even consider bringing Russell back on their roster if they successfully sign Kyrie Irving next July.
“If Irving signs with the Nets, SNY sources familiar with the matter say it is highly unlikely that Russell remains with the Nets. Members of the Nets organization have communicated that idea in recent days, per sources.”
Though D’Angelo Russell has started to blossom into an All-Star caliber talent, he’s still far from reaching the level of Kyrie Irving. If Irving really decides to take his talent to Brooklyn, it will definitely be the best move for the Nets to let Russell walk away in free agency. There might be some who think that Irving and Russell can coexist on the Nets’ backcourt, but Brooklyn is better off using their second max slot to target other incoming free agent superstars who play a different position.
With Kevin Durant expected to miss the entire 2019-20 NBA season recovering from injury, the Nets could try pairing Kyrie Irving with the likes of Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors, or Jimmy Butler of the Philadelphia 76ers. Being dumped by the team that turned him into an NBA All-Star won’t be the end for D’Angelo Russell. As Begley noted, Russell is expected to garner plenty of interest from NBA teams who need an upgrade at the point guard position, like the Indiana Pacers.
“Russell, a restricted free agent, will likely draw significant interest on the open market. The 23-year-old is coming off of an All-Star season in which he helped lead Brooklyn to the playoffs. Members of the Pacers organization are high on Russell, SNY sources confirm.”
Aside from the Pacers, other NBA teams who express strong interest in signing D’Angelo Russell include the Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.