D’Angelo Russell managed to make some huge improvements to his game in his second season with the Brooklyn Nets, averaging 21.1 points, 7.0 assists, and 1.2 steals on 43.4 percent shooting from the field and 36.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. With his incredible performance, Russell succeeded to earn his first NBA All-Star selection and help the Nets return to the Eastern Conference Playoffs after a four-year absence. However, despite his on-court success in the 2018-19 NBA season, Russell isn’t expected to be the Nets’ No. 1 priority in the 2019 NBA offseason.
Having enough salary cap space for two max slots, the Nets are planning to try their luck on top-tier free agents like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler before they consider bringing Russell back. The Nets may only see Russell as a backup plan, but he’s very valuable to NBA teams who are in dire need of a backcourt boost. According to Darren Wolfson of SKOR North, one of the NBA teams who have expressed strong interest in acquiring Russell is the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Wolfson revealed that the Timberwolves explored the possibility of engaging in a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets, with Minnesota offering Andrew Wiggins in exchange for Russell.
“I am told there was some dialogue with Brooklyn to see if the Nets would have some interest in a sign-and-trade, Wiggins for D’Angelo Russell,” Wolfson said, as transcribed by NBC Sports. “I don’t sense those talks got even a smidge off the ground. I mean, the Nets are not taking on that contract.”
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The Timberwolves would be hitting two birds with one stone with the potential deal. Aside from having an All-Star caliber point guard in Russell, the trade would allow them to get rid of Wiggins and the four years and $122 million left on his contract. However, as Wolfson noted, it is highly unlikely for the Nets to agree in a sign-and-trade deal with the Timberwolves involving Russell and Wiggins.
As of now, it remains unknown if the Timberwolves have other plans to bring D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota. However, it seems like the face of the Timberwolves’ franchise, Karl-Anthony Towns, looks very interested in teaming up with Russell. In an interview with Uproxx, Towns revealed that he plans to be aggressive in recruiting Russell to the Timberwolves in the 2019 NBA free agency.
“Yes. I pay very close attention to free agency. And D’Angelo is not getting whispers, he’s getting more of a yell from a microphone. This is a big free agency period for us as an organization, so we’re taking every step and exploring every avenue.”
Aside from the Timberwolves, other NBA teams who are expected to go after D’Angelo Russell include the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers.