D'Angelo Russell

Nets Rumors: Butler, LeVert, Allen, Russell, RHJ

Although the Nets internally view Jimmy Butler as a top-10 or top-15 player in the NBA, the team resolved not to give up any of its prime assets for him once he became available, writes Michael Scotto of The Athletic. When Brooklyn briefly discussed the possibility of acquiring Butler in a trade, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and the team’s first-round pick were off-limits.

As Scotto details, general manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have talked throughout their tenures about not “skipping steps” in the Nets’ rebuilding process. Sacrificing one or two of the club’s top young players or draft picks would have meant going for a quick fix, with no assurances that Butler would have stuck around beyond 2019.

Here’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • The Nets did kick the tires on Butler before the Timberwolves sent him to Philadelphia, having discussed a deal involving D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and salary filler, league sources tell Scotto. However, those talks didn’t gain any traction.
  • Scotto identifies Nikola Mirotic and Tobias Harris as two veteran forwards who may receive interest from the Nets during the summer of 2019. Brooklyn has long coveted a reliable stretch four, and Mirotic and Harris, who will both be unrestricted free agents next year, are capable of playing that role.
  • As he approaches restricted free agency, D’Angelo Russell is showing a little more consistency, particularly on the defensive end, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “His maturity, his consistency, that’s what we’re starting to see,” Kenny Atkinson said. “That’s the challenge for him. It’s not on-again, off-again. We need more on from him, and I think he’s starting to get over that hurdle. He looked really good physically, too, against Denver (on Friday). He really got after it.”

Nets Notes: Free Agency, Russell, Faried, LeVert

The Nets were one of the NBA’s most aggressive teams in free agency in 2016 and 2017, handing out a total of four offer sheets to Allen Crabbe, Tyler Johnson, Donatas Motiejunas, and Otto Porter during that time. All four of those offers were matched, which probably ended up being a good thing in retrospect for Brooklyn, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

While Crabbe ended up on the Nets eventually as a result of a trade, he has struggled with his consistency, as has Johnson. Meanwhile, Motiejunas is no longer in the NBA and Porter is off to a bad start for the 2-8 Wizards this season.

If most or all of those players had landed in Brooklyn as a result of those offer sheets, the Nets almost certainly wouldn’t be in position to make a splash in the 2019 free agent period — instead, their cap would be weighed down with lucrative multiyear deals for players who haven’t necessarily emerged as impact players. So while GM Sean Marks deserves some credit for making the most of a bad situation during the first few years of his tenure, he has also benefited from some good luck in restricted free agency.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Before the Nets defeated the Suns on Tuesday, Devin Booker told Greg Logan of Newsday that he’d “love to play” with Brooklyn guard D’Angelo Russell someday, adding that Russell “makes people around him better.” A union between the two players is unlikely to happen in Brooklyn anytime in the next few years, since Booker’s five-year extension with the Suns begins next season. But perhaps Russell, who will be a restricted free agent in 2019, will draw interest from Phoenix.
  • After being buried in Denver’s rotation last season, Kenneth Faried finds himself in a similar situation in a contract year with the Nets. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, head coach Kenny Atkinson praised Faried’s play in practice, but said there’s simply “no room” in the lineup for him at this point. “I can’t say, ‘Oh, he’s played bad,’ or ‘Oh, he’s not playing well.’ I can’t say that. Some guys, I can,” Atkinson said. “I’m telling you the honest truth, it’s a situational thing. And the other guys have got to start playing badly for him to get a chance.”
  • In another article for The New York Post, Lewis explores how Caris LeVert has evolved from a risky, injured draft pick to a crucial long-term piece for the Nets.

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Hayward, Sixers

As the Nets continue developing their young players, Brian Lewis of The New York Post has identified a key development of the season so far in D’Angelo Russell‘s lack of crunch-time minutes.

As Lewis points out, Russell sat out the last 5:42 of regulation and the entire overtime in the Nets’ win over the Pistons, logged just 1:31 in the fourth quarter on Oct. 24 against the Cavaliers, and never got off the bench in the fourth quarter of the season opener. That is all in addition to Russell not seeing a single minute in the fourth quarter of the Nets’ loss to the Rockets on Friday.

It’s no secret that Russell struggles on defense, but it’s more of a result of the depth on the roster and coach Kenny Atkinson’s focus on riding the hot hands and playing lineups based on match-ups. In fact, every Nets starter other than Caris LeVert has sat an entire or essentially all of a fourth quarter this season.

The key might be for Atkinson to figure out a way to get Russell on the floor alongside Spencer Dinwiddie and LeVert, a trio that has not had success up until this point.

There are still plenty of opportunities left for Russell to make plays when it matters most, but this trend is one to keep an eye on as Russell approaches restricted free agency and the Nets look to make a marquee signing this summer.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

Nets Notes: Napier, Dinwiddie, Faried, Russell

The opportunity to frequently play off the ball was the selling point that convinced Shabazz Napier to sign with the Nets, according to Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily.com. Napier would seemingly have a limited role on a team that already has D’Angelo Russell at Spencer Dinwiddie to run the offense but coach Kenny Atkinson plans to give Napier the chance to play both guard spots. Napier was the primary backup guard with the Trail Blazers last season and shot 45% on catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts and 37.7% overall from long range, Puccio notes. “I don’t need to be on the ball,” Napier said. “I proved that when I was in Portland.”

In other news concerning the Nets:

  • Speculation that Dinwiddie could be dealt is reasonable, given his modest contract, but the Nets like him a lot and may re-sign him, according to a Net Income post. The Suns are searching for a starting point guard and the chance to acquire Dinwiddie, who will make $1.65MM during the upcoming season, on an expiring contract would be attractive. However, the Nets could also offer Dinwiddie a four-year extension in December or try to re-sign him next summer at a bigger number than others can offer due to owning his Bird rights.
  • Forward Kenneth Faried pled not guilty on Wednesday after being charged with unlawful possession of marijuana in the fourth degree last month, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. Faried was arrested in Bridgehampton on the misdemeanor for allegedly possessing more than two ounces of the drug. The Nuggets traded Faried and his expiring $13,76MM contract to Brooklyn in mid-July.
  • Should the Nets give Russell an extension? We examined the pros and cons in our Extension Candidate series. Check it out here.

Extension Candidate: D’Angelo Russell

Twenty-three players became eligible for rookie scale extensions when the 2018/19 NBA league year began in July. One of those 23, Devin Booker, quickly finalized a new deal with the Suns, leaving 22 other players who could sign rookie scale extensions before the October 15 deadline. In the weeks leading up to that deadline, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the strongest candidates for new contracts.

[RELATED: 2018 NBA Extension Candidate Series]

Our examination of this year’s candidates for rookie scale extensions continues today with Nets guard D’Angelo Russell. Let’s dive in…

Why the Nets should give him an extension:

The second overall pick in the 2015 draft, Russell was the first player to come off the board after Karl-Anthony Towns was selected. A play-making point guard with size, the former Ohio State star has shown intriguing upside during his first three NBA seasons, averaging 14.6 PPG, 4.3 APG, and 3.6 RPG in 191 games (27.8 MPG).

Given the Nets’ dearth of lottery picks in recent years, a result of their ill-fated trade with the Celtics years ago, the team was willing to surrender longtime center Brook Lopez and a first-round pick for Russell last summer, taking on Timofey Mozgov‘s oversized contract in the process.

That trade signaled that the Nets believed in Russell’s potential, and with the club’s cap now cleared of pricey long-term deals, this could be the time to invest in his future. Injuries and adjustments to Kenny Atkinson‘s system limited Russell’s impact in his first year in Brooklyn, but the club is reportedly excited to see what he can do in year two. If the 22-year-old enjoys a breakout season, he’ll only get more expensive as a restricted free agent in 2019.

Why the Nets should avoid an extension:

Beyond clearing Mozgov’s contract and clearing a path for Lonzo Ball to assume point guard duties, there’s a reason the Lakers were willing to trade Russell in 2017. The young guard faced scrutiny about his work ethic and his drive in Los Angeles, with president of basketball operations Magic Johnson hinting after the trade was completed that the franchise didn’t necessarily view Russell as a “leader.”

Russell’s on-court production may also be a cause for a concern, as he hasn’t shown much improvement in that department since his rookie season. Most players who enter the NBA as 19-year-olds and develop into reliable regulars see their numbers steadily rise over the course of their rookie contracts, but Russell’s 2017/18 stats (15.5 PPG on .414/.324/.740 shooting) look awfully similar to his 2015/16 figures (13.2 PPG on .410/.351/.737 shooting).

Russell didn’t exactly make a strong case for a long-term contract during his first season as a Net, with injuries limiting him to 48 games. He was outplayed by former second-round pick Spencer Dinwiddie at times, and his on/off-court numbers weren’t flattering — Brooklyn had a -7.1 net rating when Russell played, including an ugly 111.7 defensive mark. Those numbers improved to -2.8 and 107.0 when he wasn’t on the court.

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Nets, D’Angelo Russell Extension Unlikely

As we noted earlier this summer, the Nets still hadn’t had any rookie-scale extension talks with D’Angelo Russell after about a week into free agency. Now, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, it appears that an extension is unlikely given Brooklyn’s plan to be a major spender in free agency next summer.

The Nets’ deadline to sign Russell, 22, to an extension is the last day before the start of the regular season, but even if no extension is agreed to, the Nets will still be able to make Russell a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019 by tendering him a $9.16MM qualifying offer next June.

“For now we’re going to see how this group plays together, how it all unfolds,” said general manager Sean Marks said. “But — again, I’m not going to rule out anything — as we stand now, this is the group and we have no plans to make any crazy changes, whether that’s an extension or signing or trade anyone else. But things happen quickly.”

Russell, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, averaged 20.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game before getting hurt last season, but given the plan to maximize cap space and the fact that Russell will be under team control as a restricted free agent, Lewis opines that the Nets would be prudent to stand pat and let the market set the price for Russell next summer.

Only one other member of the 2015 NBA Draft class – Devin Booker – has signed a rookie-scale extension so far this summer, but Karl-Anthony Towns, Bobby Portis, and Larry Nance Jr. are among those considered strong candidates for new deals.

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, DeRozan, Russell, Watanabe

The Raptors‘ potential pursuit of Kawhi Leonard is the hottest rumor making the rounds at summer league, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Toronto appears poised to join the Lakers, Sixers and Celtics as teams in the conversation for the Spurs’ star. With LeBron James out of the East, the addition of Leonard could tilt the balance of power in the race for the conference title.

Smith speculates that San Antonio would ask for DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, two first-round draft choices and another player or pick. Smith suggests countering with an offer of DeRozan or Kyle Lowry, along with either Norman Powell or Jakob Poeltl, plus Delon Wright and a pair of first-rounders.

DeRozan erased his Instagram feed this week and posted the message, “We had some bumps along the way. But the reward is in the journey. I’m in my bag.” However, a source close to him tells Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet that there’s no significance behind the move and it’s not an indication that a trade is coming (Twitter link).

There’s more tonight from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors have become the new odds-on favorite to acquire Leonard, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. OddsShark.com, a sports betting site, lists Toronto as the even-money favorite to swing a deal for Leonard.
  • The Nets haven’t had any extension talks with D’Angelo Russell, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Russell, who was acquired in a trade with the Lakers last summer, put up some impressive numbers in first 12 games with Brooklyn before being sidelined by a left knee injury. He posted a 20.9/4.7/5.7 line on 46% shooting prior to the injury, which required arthroscopic surgery. Russell, 22, will make $7.02MM in the upcoming season and will be a restricted free agent next summer if no extension deal is reached.
  • Japanese star Yuta Watanabe is making a bid for an NBA job with his performance for the Nets‘ summer league team, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Watanabe averaged 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in four summer league games. “It’s great for me,” he said. “Great experience, but it’s still summer league. I still have a lot to go, so my goal is not here.”

Atlantic Notes: Chandler, Williams, Russell, Nets

While he reportedly wasn’t always happy with role in Denver, Wilson Chandler sounds ready to take on whatever role he’s asked to play with his new team After being acquired by the Sixers, Chandler spoke to reporters – including Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com – about how he thinks he’ll fit in Philadelphia.

“Me personally, I don’t worry about coming off the bench or starting – I have had both of them in my career,” said the Sixers’ newest forward. “I have come off the bench before and I’ve started before. I’m not opposed to that at all. I just want to win. I’m just blessed to be back with a playoff team and looking forward to pushing it as far as we can.”

For his part, Sixers head coach Brett Brown is excited to have Chandler in his lineup, citing the veteran’s ability to make three-pointers and guard multiple positions. “The versatility in his game is extremely impressive,” Brown said of Chandler.

Let’s round up a few more notes from around the Atlantic…

  • Celtics rookie Robert Williams has an artery condition in both of his legs, multiple sources tell Fred Katz of MassLive.com. According to Katz, the condition – known as popliteal artery entrapment syndrome (PAES), is considered “not too serious” for now. NBA teams, including the Celtics, were aware of Williams’ condition heading into the draft, per Katz, who says the team will regular monitor the big man’s PAES.
  • The Nets and D’Angelo Russell‘s camp have yet to discuss a rookie scale extension, but Russell is using his friend Devin Booker‘s new $158MM deal as motivation, writes Michael Scotto of The Athletic.
  • Nets Summer League swingman Yuta Watanabe is making a case for a training camp invite and a chance to become the NBA’s second-ever Japanese-born player, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details.
  • Raptors forward Malcolm Miller, who received a qualifying offer as a two-way player, suffered a dislocated shoulder and will miss the rest of Summer League play, according to the team (Twitter link). It’s not clear how the injury might impact Miller’s free agency.

New York Notes: Randle, Stauskas, Knicks, Turner

The Nets are among the teams interested in signing Lakers forward Julius Randle to an offer sheet, according to an article on NetsDaily. Brooklyn would like to reunite D’Angelo Russell with Randle, who is a close friend and one of the few Lakers who showed support for Russell when Magic Johnson publicly questioned his leadership abilities. They also share the same agent in Aaron Mintz.

A few things will have to break the Nets’ way for them to have a shot at Randle. The Lakers will have to land both LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, limiting what they would be willing to spend on their restricted free agent, and the Mavericks, who are also known to covet Randle, would have to use most of their cap room to sign DeAndre Jordan.

Even if those dominoes fall into place, the Nets still have to trim some salary to come up with an offer sheet that starts in the $12MM to $15MM range. The article states that sweeteners such as up-front money and trade bonuses could be included to make it more difficult for the Lakers to match. To create cap room, the author adds, the Nets would have to get Dwight Howard to accept a buyout in the next few days and trade either Jeremy Lin or DeMarre Carroll.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Even though the Nets decided against a qualifying offer for Nik Stauskas, that doesn’t mean he’ll be in a different uniform next season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn views Stauskas as a lower-cost alternative if Joe Harris leaves in free agency, where he is expected to get a deal three to four times higher than his $1.5MM salary for 2017/18. Mark Bartelstein, who serves as the agent for both players, isn’t sure the decision will come down to one or the other. “We’ll see how things play out over the next two days,” he said. “We’ll be keeping the lines of communication open for the next few days. I know the Nets like Nik a lot. We’ll see how the roster shapes up.”
  • Pacers center Myles Turner could be the Knicks‘ top free agent target next summer, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Turner will be a restricted free agent if he doesn’t sign an extension with Indiana this summer. His family lives in New York, and he and Kristaps Porzingis are friends. Begley lists Terry Rozier and Malcolm Brogdon as other names to watch in 2019.
  • James Dolan has denied rumors that he is thinking about putting the Knicks up for sale, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Madison Square Garden Company released a statement Friday night saying, “There are no plans to sell the Knicks or the Rangers.”

Nets Notes: Harris, Lin, Marks, Cap Room

The Nets are committed to re-signing free agent Joe Harris this summer, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. The fourth-year swingman is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 10.8 points per game while shooting .419 from 3-point range. He emerged as a rotation player in Brooklyn last season after two years of trying to earn a role in Cleveland, and said “I don’t really envision myself being anywhere else” during a media session last week.

Scotto talked to eight NBA executives who estimate Harris will get offers between $4MM and $7MM per season. That shouldn’t be an issue for the Nets, who will have up to $20MM in available cap space. Harris just wrapped up a two-year veterans’ minimum deal he signed with Brooklyn in 2016.

“I think Joe made it pretty clear in some of the statements he made that he’d love to be back here,” GM Sean Marks said. “That’s how the organization feels about him, too. As [coach] Kenny [Atkinson] alluded to before, we’ve got some decisions to make on several, but definitely, Joe is a guy we see in a Nets uniform.”

There’s more news out of Brooklyn:

  • Jeremy Lin‘s season was wiped out by a ruptured patella tendon on opening night, but the front office believes he will be an impact player next season, Scotto relays in the same story. Injuries limited Lin to 36 games during 2016/17 in his first season with Brooklyn, so he feels like he has something to prove heading into the final year of his contract. “I would say I wouldn’t bet against Jeremy,” Marks cautioned. “The way he’s attacked his rehab over the course of the last six to eight months is really impressive. He’s come back with a little bit of a new lease on life, which is great.”
  • The Nets plan to remain patient in the rebuilding process, Scotto adds. The team raised its victory total from 20 to 28 this season and is aiming for modest improvements over the summer. Brooklyn’s cap room will be reduced by about $8.5MM if it makes a qualifying offer to Nik Stauskas and picks up non-guaranteed salaries for Spencer Dinwiddie and Isaiah Whitehead. Lin’s contract expires next summer and Allen Crabbe can opt out, giving the Nets much more flexibility in the 2019 free agent market.
  • Atkinson is happy with the progress that Crabbe, D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen all made during their first year with the franchise, but he wants them to improve on defense, especially with forcing turnovers, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.