Just after a career-season with the Brooklyn Nets, it appears that D'Angelo Russell may already be on the move. Russell earned his first NBA All-Star selection during the 2018-2019 season when he averaged a career-high 21.1 points, seven assists and four rebounds per game.
As a result, there’s a high possibility that the Nets renounce Russell’s rights and allow him to be an unrestricted free agent. Considering this, let’s take a look at the latest speculation surrounding one of the most coveted point guards on the free agent market.
Los Angeles Lakers
Talk about coming full circle, latest speculation and rumors indicate the possibility of Russell returning to the team that drafted him in 2015. The latest reports indicate that both sides are interested in a reunion if the Nets decide to move on.
According to NBA Insider Arye Abraham, a meeting between the Los Angeles Lakers and Russell is already in place. At the moment, Abraham remains the only person to report this information.
Although Russell’s tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers ended with some choice words from their former president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson, his abrupt departure at the end of the 2018-2019 season opens the door to a reunion.
With Johnson out of the picture and LeBron James and Anthony Davis now in Los Angeles, Russell fills a desperate need for the Lakers, who currently have Isaac Bonga as the lone point guard on the roster. At just 23 and coming off a season where he played like a top-tier point guard, Russell would be the third star on the Los Angeles Lakers, who are already the 2019-2020 NBA title favorites.
The only issue for the Lakers remains cap space. It will be impossible for the Lakers to offer Russell a max contract, but can still offer him a deal worth up to $20 million per year. If Russell is willing to take a pay cut in order to play for a championship contender, a reunion with the Lakers seems like a viable option.
Although the latest speculation indicates that the Nets have shifted their focus towards Irving and Kevin Durant, Russell returning to Brooklyn is not completely out of the picture.
Irving is said to still prefer the Nets and is reportedly trying to convince Durant to join him, but rumors indicate that the Nets may not have interest in Irving if he is unable to bring Durant with him.
With Durant also linked to a potential sign-and-trade option with the Golden State Warriors and the New York Knicks, there’s no certainty that he will sign with the Nets. If this recent rumor is true, there’s a possibility that the Nets may pass on Irving and continue to build around Russell.
With a lot of uncertainties surrounding the situation, one thing remains clear: Irving and Russell coexisting in Brooklyn is not an option.
A wild card in the D’Angelo Russell sweepstakes, the Minnesota Timberwolves have emerged as a potential team destination for the coveted point guard. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the T-Wolves believe they “have a pathway” to acquire Russell.
Although it’s uncertain what “pathway” he is talking about, it can be speculated that Karl-Anthony Towns will play a big role in it. The first two picks in the 2015 NBA Draft, Towns and Russell are very close friends.
According to this recent interview, Towns has been very vocal in his recruitment of Russell and their intention to play with each other. In order for the Timberwolves and Russell to work, similar to the Lakers, they would need to clear cap space or convince him to take a discounted contract. If they could somehow make it work, the T-Wolves would boast one of the brightest one-two punches in the entire league.
The Phoenix Suns have one of the youngest rosters in the entire NBA, with many players chock-full of potential. With no true starting point guard in the lineup, the Suns need to acquire one and pair him with star shooting guard Devin Booker. Booker and Russell are good friends and if put together, would provide one of the youngest and best backcourts in the entire league. The latest rumors indicate that Booker has been pushing the Suns to pursue Russell.
However, according to the same report, other members of the Suns organization do not share the same interest in Russell as Booker. With the majority of their core players still on rookie contracts, the Suns could afford to sign Russell to a max contract. It’s just a matter of if they think Russell is the right fit to run their offense.