NBA Rumor: D'Angelo Russell Free Agency

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The Nets moved swiftly to secure four-year agreements from new franchise cornerstones in Durant and Irving along with DeAndre Jordan. Brooklyn also agreed to a two-year deal with veteran swingman Garrett Temple. And before the clock struck midnight on the East Coast, the Nets were working towards a sign-and-trade that would send D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham to the Warriors. Brooklyn is expected to receive draft pick compensation as part of the sign-and-trade, a league source told The Athletic. The specifics were still being ironed out late into the night.

Towns and Russell were taken Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the 2015 NBA draft and have been close friends since high school. Towns is really high on adding Russell, sources said. It would take moving Andrew Wiggins or a combination of Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng to open the space needed for Minnesota to sign Russell. The Nets would have two days to match a signed offer sheet to retain Russell.

During Tuesday’s “Woj and Lowe Free Agency Special” on ESPN, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said the Lakers are targeting the 23-year-old All-Star in free agency — so much so that they’re reportedly hoping another target of theirs, Kyrie Irving, signs with Russell’s current team, forcing him into unrestricted free agency: “It is a legitimate scenario, Zach. The Lakers now, at this point, are rooting for Kyrie Irving to go to Brooklyn because then Brooklyn renounces D’Angelo Russell, who’s a restricted free agent. He becomes unrestricted and then the Lakers could sign Russell as their third star in L.A. and they get back a much more mature, polished player who’s been an All-Star, who’s put a team into the postseason.”

Wolves to pursue D'Angelo Russell?

ESPN’s Zach Lowe poured gasoline all over the fire, saying the Wolves were “up to something” on his most recent podcast with Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony. Lowe said they’ve have let the league know they have path to landing Russell as the franchise point guard of the future they desperately want. The social media recruiting by Towns isn’t simply some harmless fun with a close friend, either. “There has been a lot of Minnesota (signing) D’Angelo Russell noise,” said Lowe.

Do you have a prediction on what’s going to happen with you, D’Angelo Russell and the rest of the guys? DeMarre Carroll: No prediction, but we’ll see. My agent, Mark Bartelstein, he’ll make sure he gets me in the right position and the right place. If it’s in Brooklyn or if it’s not, he’s going to make sure that I’m taken care of and I’m successful. Hopefully for DLo – if it’s not here if it’s somewhere else – I think he earned himself a max deal. He earned himself a max deal to take care of his family for the rest of their life. He’s just got to enjoy the moment and enjoy whether it’s here or somewhere else.

Zach Lowe: “When the dust all settles, the Suns with Kelly Oubre’s cap hold — and Kelly Oubre is a decent young player, the Suns should want to keep Kelly Oubre — have I think $14-15 million in room. Not enough for D’Angelo Russell, who they have openly coveted. Not enough for Malcolm Brogdon. Maybe enough for Patrick Beverley, but not enough for a max free agent. What in the hell just happened? What are they doing? What happened?”

You’ve been vocal about the Timberwolves having a chance to make major improvements via free agency. You’ve done some D’Angelo Russell whispering on Instagram. Have you paid attention to all the player movement and rumors this summer? Karl-Anthony Towns: 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. How long have you known Russell? Karl-Anthony Towns: Forever. Me and D’Angelo have known each other for a very long time. We’ve talked about how much we want to play with each other, not even just in the NBA or college, but in high school. Who would’ve thought we’re at this moment now.

But thanks to general manager Sean Marks paying a heavy price to clear Crabbe’s contract — one of his few mistakes since taking the job — the Nets have $68 million to spend if they renounce point guard D’Angelo Russell, and $48 million even including his cap hold. Sources have said the Nets would consider pairing Russell with Irving, and Kevin Boyle — who coached both in high school — insists they’re friends and would thrive together. Russell liked and commented on an Instagram post showing his jersey next to an Irving Nets jersey.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of system fits,” said Rosas when asked what types of players the franchise needs to add. “I think there’s a lot of diversity in terms of the wing position. There are some questions that we have to answer at the point guard position. At the bigs position, there’s a good strength, there’s good depth there. But a lot of it is going to be what the market bears in terms of trades, what the market bears in terms of free agency.” Russell plays a position that the 2019-20 Timberwolves need to address. Because of that, it makes sense to pursue the possibility of his acquisition, even if the odds are stacked against Rosas in terms of feasibility. The improbable is worth pursuing. That is the job of a diligent front office.

Sources told The Post that even if the Nets don’t get Durant, they would still sign Irving and willingly pair him with Russell. But how willing is Russell? “If we’re being completely honest, I enjoyed the team that we had this whole season,” Russell told The Post. “If the situation was to come up to have pieces of his caliber around, it’ll make us a better team obviously. But I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy our team, and the pieces we had around.”

Russell, 23, will become a restricted free agent this upcoming summer. However, reports indicate the Nets would like to strike a deal before he hits the market. Russell became an All-Star and is currently a candidate for the Most Improved Player award after averaging a career-high 21 points and seven assists per game. The Nets think very highly of Russell. Between his development on and off the court and his desire to be great, the Nets would like him to be a part of their future going forward. “Without D’Angelo, the Nets don’t make the jump they made,” one league source said.

So much so that Russell, who is entering free agency for the first time, acknowledges that he’s looking forward to at least tasting the open market at age 23, with a well-delivered “hell yeah,” when asked about his excitement. And Brooklyn will be in the lead come first of July. “I don’t know any other teams,” offered Russell, the former Los Angeles Laker. “I don’t know any other GMs or coaches. I don’t know any of those people. I know where I’m at. So it definitely gives you that advantage.”

And here’s what Sean Marks had to say about talking to the franchise’s only All-Star in the last five years as July 1 approaches. “I think the conversations that have taken place are over the entire time that he’s been here. And those conversations are between he and Kenny (Atkinson), they’re between myself and D’Angelo, they’re between the doctors and the performance team, the staff. And it’s really about a holistic view about how we care for our guys,” Marks told a dozen or so reporters. “And I would think I could put D’Angelo and the rest of our guys, lump them all together; l think they know how we appreciate them, how we care for them, how we want to develop them. And that’s part of the restricted free agent pitch, if you will, for him.

“It looks like he’s arrived and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere,” Boyle said of Russell. “He’s going to be an All-Star for a long time. The confidence that he has in himself and the way that he’s playing, and you can feel the team also feels that way about him the way they’re interacting it seems like they have great trust in his ability and they all bought in that he’s a really good distributor, excellent player, and I think he and the team like each other.”

Later this summer, the tables will turn for Brooklyn’s front office as Russell enters restricted free agency once the Nets extend a one-year, $9.16 million qualifying offer to him, as expected. He will count as a $21 million cap hold until he either signs the qualifying offer, signs an offer sheet with another team or negotiates a new long-term deal with the Nets. “I think D’Angelo is worth around $20 million (annually),” one long-time Eastern Conference executive said. “Is this payback time for the Nets? Will teams offer him the way they (Nets) did for Crabbe, Porter, and Johnson? I think he turned the corner. I think he has a chip on his shoulder.” “He’s going to be in high demand and will get close to max with his overall improvement,” a Western Conference executive said.

With each game this season, Russell’s free agent stock has improved. Russell, who turns 23 on Feb. 23, is eligible for restricted free agency this summer if the Nets extend a $9.16 million qualifying offer to him, as expected. He will count as a $21 million cap hold until he either signs the one-year, $9.16 million qualifying offer, signs an offer sheet with another team or negotiates a new long-term deal with the Nets. “I understand that it’s a business and I would love to be here, but I’m not going to say anything more than that because I don’t know what the situation may be,” Russell said.

The second is a function of the market as it stands. According to league sources, while there are certainly teams interested in Smith, there is some reluctance to make a commitment to him because there could be other more traditional young point guards on the market this summer. There will be the likes of Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker in free agency, of course. But for rebuilding teams in need of a point guard — Orlando and Phoenix have been mentioned as possible Smith suitors — the preference is to take aim at young restricted free agents like Terry Rozier or D’Angelo Russell this summer rather than gamble on whether Smith can develop into a point guard. “He is very athletic, but he’s not a playmaker and not a great shooter,” one front office executive told SN. “If you have money under the cap this offseason (the Suns and Magic will), there are other guys you can pursue who fit better, who can pass and score.”
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January 25, 2021 | 10:04 pm EST Update