D'Angelo Russell

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Raptors, Tatum, Brown, Knicks

Nets guard D’Angelo Russell claims he’s moved on from his exit with the Lakers, now focused on leading his team to the playoffs this spring, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. The Lakers made a surprising move by trading Russell and center Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn in 2017, bringing in Brook Lopez and the rights to Kyle Kuzma.

“I don’t think there’s anything else to be said from my part,” Russell said, according to Bondy. “Whatever y’all decide to cook up. Whatever quote y’all take, expand on it, good luck with it. But I don’t have any extra emotion.”

Russell was named to his first ever NBA All-Star team this season, rapidly improving as a point guard with per-game averages of 20.2 points and 6.8 assists. His 43% shooting mark from the floor and 36% mark from 3-point range are also career-highs.

Russell has guided the Nets to a 36-34 record through 70 games, good for the sixth best record in the Eastern Conference. The Lakers, of course, wound up drafting Lonzo Ball to fill in for Russell as starting point guard. Los Angeles will host Brooklyn next Friday at Staples Center.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Raptors‘ success this year largely depends on what the bench can accomplish, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. Jeremy [Lin], Norm [Powell], OG [Anunoby], Patrick McCaw. What can they give us defensively, first and foremost, and then what can they limit mistake-wise offensively?” coach Nick Nurse said. “That’s what OG has done. He’s been pretty out of the way, mistake-free, made a few shots, made a few cuts gotten on the glass. Patrick McCaw, the same. I kind of like the decisions that Jeremy has made. He just hasn’t made enough of his shots. And Norman, we’ve got to limit the turnovers with that unit.”
  • The Celtics‘ young stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are settling into their respective roles just in time, Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com writes. “We know what we’re capable of, and we were close to getting to the championship [last year],” Tatum said. “Now we’re trying to get over that hump and get there.” Boston badly needs the production from Tatum and Brown if they want to compete for a championship, with the team currently holding the fifth seed in the East one month before the playoffs.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examines where the Knicks stand entering the offseason, which includes June’s NBA Draft and the start of free agency in July. In addition to having a solid young core, the team will own a high-level draft pick and significant cap space to pursue star free agents on the open market.

NBA Execs Predict Market For D’Angelo Russell

As I noted on Wednesday when I singled out a few restricted free agents poised to land lucrative multiyear deals this summer, few RFAs-to-be are better positioned than D’Angelo Russell.

The Nets‘ point guard has enjoyed a breakout season in 2018/19, establishing new career highs in PPG (20.5), APG (6.8), FG% (.436), 3PT% (.368), and a number of other categories. He has been a driving force behind Brooklyn’s push for a playoff spot, and is expected to cash in in a big way during the 2019 offseason.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: D’Angelo Russell’s Free Agency]

With that in mind, Michael Scotto of The Athletic spoke to a handful of executives around the NBA to get a sense of what Russell’s market might look like this July. The consensus? He should be among 2019’s highest-paid free agents.

“He has had a great year,” an Eastern Conference general manager said of Russell. “There’s no reason to believe he will not stay at this level.”

“He’s going to be in high demand and will get close to max with his overall improvement,” a Western Conference executive told Scotto.

As our early maximum salary projections for 2019/20 show, based on a $109MM salary cap, Russell could earn a contract worth up to $158.05MM over five years with the Nets. If he signs with another team, his projected max would be $117.18MM over four years. That raises another question: Will the 23-year-old re-sign with Brooklyn or ink an offer sheet with another team, forcing the Nets to make a tough decision?

While Scotto doesn’t explicitly identify any teams that will pursue Russell this offseason, he notes that the Pacers, Suns, and Magic are among the clubs expected to be in the market for a point guard. Indiana has the most cap flexibility of the three, but Phoenix and Orlando could both create the space necessary to pursue Russell, depending on their roster moves.

The Nets also have a history, under GM Sean Marks, of making aggressive offers to rival RFAs, having forced the Heat, Trail Blazers, and Wizards to match big-money deals for Tyler Johnson, Allen Crabbe, and Otto Porter, respectively. At least one of the executives who spoke to Scotto wondered if another club will turn the tables on Brooklyn this time around.

“I think D’Angelo is worth around $20MM (annually),” the longtime Eastern exec 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.”

Nets Notes: Rotation, Kurucs, LeVert, Davis

Now that the Nets have a healthy lineup again, it’s up to coach Kenny Atkinson to find the right combinations to break them out of a slump, writes Greg Joyce of The New York PostCaris LeVert, Allen Crabbe and Jared Dudley recently returned from injuries, leaving Spencer Dinwiddie, who had thumb surgery in late January, as the only player still sidelined. However, Brooklyn has lost six of its last eight games and has fallen back to .500.

“I think part of getting healthy again is just getting that chemistry and getting our lineups right,” Atkinson said. “That’s where we’re a little — confused is the wrong word, but we’re trying to figure it out what the best thing is and who’s getting the minutes and all that. It’s almost like another new season for us with all our returning players.”

LeVert was off to a sizzling start before suffering a dislocated foot in November, and backcourt partner D’Angelo Russell didn’t begin to excel until LeVert got injured. Atkinson has to find a way for them to be effective together, while also working out a logjam at power forward, where Treveon GrahamRondae Hollis-Jefferson and Dudley are all battling for playing time.

There’s more today out of Brooklyn:

  • Also competing for minutes at forward will be rookie forward Rodions Kurucs, even though he was held out of the lineup Thursday, Joyce adds in a separate story. Atkinson said the 21-year-old, who was part of the Rising Stars Challenge, will remain in the mix for a spot in the rotation.
  • LeVert expected to be out for the season when he first suffered his injury, relays Bryan Fonseca of NetsDaily“I looked down and I was like, ‘Man, this is bad,’” LeVert said in an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “But I think, probably 15-20 minutes after it happened, they kind of told me that it may have only been a dislocation. And that was the best case scenario in that situation.”
  • Ed Davis was happy to get a one-year, $4.4MM offer from the Nets last summer, but he wasn’t sure he would be joining a contender, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “When I signed here in July, I didn’t think this was a playoff team, honestly,” Davis said. “But when I got here and started to see players and how good guys were — and see coach, his philosophies and his schemes — my mindset changed.”

Community Shootaround: D’Angelo Russell’s Free Agency

Last July, Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell spoke about using the new five-year, $158MM extension signed by his good friend Devin Booker as “motivation” during the 2018/19 season. Seven months later, Russell has delivered on that promise, positioning himself for a huge payday of his own.

In the midst of a breakout season in Brooklyn, Russell is averaging career highs in PPG (20.3), APG (6.6), FG% (.436), and 3PT% (.372), among other categories. He earned a spot in the All-Star Game in Charlotte this past weekend, and has the Nets in position to make the postseason for the first time since 2015 — at 30-29, the club has already exceeded its win total from each of the last three seasons.

Russell, who will turn 23 years old this Saturday, is poised to hit free agency at the right time. Several teams around the NBA – including the Nets – have the flexibility to offer huge deals, and there are only so many star free agents available. For teams that miss out on the very best options like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving, Russell may look like a tantalizing Plan B.

While the idea that Russell is a maximum-salary candidate may seem surprising, there won’t be many elite point guards available once Irving signs. Russell is six years younger than Kemba Walker and has emerged as a far more intriguing option than Terry Rozier. For a club in need of a point guard – like Booker’s Suns – an aggressive bid on Russell makes a ton of sense.

Of course, Russell will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Nets will have the chance to match any offer he receives. The two sides could also negotiate directly, since Brooklyn is the only team eligible to give Russell five years instead of four. A five-year deal could be worth up to a projected $158MM, while a four-year deal would max out around $117MM.

[RELATED: Maximum Salary Projections for 2019/20]

If the Nets are focused on veteran free agents like Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris when July 1 arrives though, it could open the door for another team to swoop in and sign Russell to a player-friendly offer sheet (perhaps with big up-front payments and a trade kicker), forcing Brooklyn into a tough decision.

Given Sean Marks‘ history of pursuing other teams’ restricted free agents – such as Otto Porter, Allen Crabbe, and Tyler Johnson – and forcing those teams to match massive offer sheets, I expect there will be clubs out there looking to return the favor when Russell reaches restricted free agency. However, the ex-Laker has raved about his time in Brooklyn and may be happy to deal directly with the Nets rather than seeking out an offer sheet.

What do you think? Will Russell get a maximum-salary offer this summer? Will he sign directly with the Nets, or will Brooklyn be forced to decide whether to match another team’s offer? Would the Nets happily match a max offer? Do you expect Russell to ultimately remain in Brooklyn, or can you envision a scenario where he changes teams?

Head to the comment section below to make your predictions on Russell’s upcoming free agency.

D’Angelo Russell Replaces Oladipo In All-Star Game

Nets guard D’Angelo Russell has been added to the 2019 All-Star Game by the NBA, the league announced today in a press release. Russell will take the place of injured Pacers guard Victor Oladipo on the roster.

[RELATED: Nowitzki, Wade Added To All-Star Game]

It’s the first All-Star selection for Russell, who has enjoyed a breakout season in his second year in Brooklyn. The former second overall pick is averaging career-best marks in PPG (19.6), APG (6.4), FG% (.438), 3PT% (.374), and a number of other categories, en route to leading the Nets to a 28-25 record. That mark puts the team comfortably in the No. 6 spot in the East.

Russell was viewed as one of the East’s top snubs when the All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday, and it seemed to be just a matter of time until he replaced Oladipo on the roster. The Pacers guard is sidelined for the rest of the season with a ruptured quad tendon.

You can check out the rest of the 2019 All-Star reserves right here.

Nets Notes: Tsai, Faried, Russell

Nets minority owner Joseph Tsai has officially completed the purchase of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the league announced today in a press release. The franchise was previously controlled by Knicks owner James Dolan.

“We are fortunate to welcome Joe Tsai to the WNBA family at a pivotal time for our league,” interim WNBA president Mark Tatum said in a statement. “We thank Jim Dolan and The Madison Square Garden Company for their incredible support of the WNBA over the past 22 years and for their commitment to finding the right owner for the Liberty. As active participants in the New York community, Joe and his team are very well-positioned to take the Liberty to exciting new heights.”

Tsai’s investment in the city’s WNBA franchise is the latest signal of his commitment to New York basketball. While Tsai is technically only a minority stakeholder in the Nets for the time being, he owns 49% of the franchise and his agreement with Mikhail Prokhorov will give him the opportunity to assume controlling interest in the team by 2021.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Although Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson consistently praised Kenneth Faried‘s attitude and work ethic during the big man’s time in Brooklyn, Faried called his Nets tenure “frustrating” and felt that the club wasn’t being straight with him, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News relays. Faried said he got the impression that the Nets didn’t trust him, and eventually decided he’d welcome a move. “That was the perception. The, ‘I don’t know you yet,'” he said. “A lot of beating around the bush as to why they wouldn’t play me. So it was like, if we figure something out then let’s immediately make that move. Because I don’t want to hinder y’all, and y’all hindering my career, pretty much.”
  • With restricted free agency looming this summer, D’Angelo Russell is playing the best basketball of his career, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. That’s an opinion shared by both Russell and his head coach. “He’s playing at an All-Star level, quite honestly,” Atkinson said. “And physically he looks great. I told him, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it, because you look fast, you look recovered, you look spry.'”
  • While the Nets don’t have the Knicks’ history and don’t play in the world’s most famous arena, Brooklyn is establishing itself as an appealing free agent destination, opines Newsday columnist Barbara Barker.

Nets Notes: Russell, Dinwiddie, Durant, LeVert

The Nets started winning when D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie figured out how to work together, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn’s point guards had an uneasy relationship early in the season, which left coach Kenny Atkinson reluctant to put them on the court at the same time. But with them working in tandem, the Nets have the league’s best record since December 7 at 16-5.

“Now they’re accepting their roles,” DeMarre Carroll said. “Those two are the head of the snake; they’re going to take us as far as we go. They finally realized that and understand they’re not in competition with each other anymore. They can do it collectively. One guy can have one night, and the other guy can have the other night. Or they can do it both together. But that’s maturity. They’re finally growing up, and you can see them maturing on and off the court.”

There may have been a financial component to their competitiveness. Russell is headed toward restricted free agency this summer after not getting an extension in the fall, while Dinwiddie signed a three-year, $34MM extension last month.

There’s more news from Brooklyn:

  • Dinwiddie plans to appeal to Kevin Durant to join the Nets in free agency this summer, relays Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Brooklyn will have enough cap space to offer Durant a maximum contract and could get close to two max offers by trading Allen Crabbe for an expiring deal and renouncing the rights to Russell.
  • Caris LeVert had a promising workout yesterday, but team officials are refusing to comment on when he might return, Lewis relays in another story. LeVert hasn’t played since suffering a dislocation in his right foot on November 12. “I’m not going to speculate,” Atkinson said. “I don’t want to give you something and be wrong. That’s the last thing I want to do. No specific update. [He’s] progressing. I know he had another great workout [Friday]. That’s as far as my medical background goes, but progressing nicely.”
  • Kenneth Faried was waived this morning after agreeing to a buyout, just three weeks after Atkinson complimented him on the way he has handled minimal playing time. “He’s been fantastic,” Atkinson said at the time. “It’s weird, some guys, they check out. He hasn’t.” Acquired from Denver in an offseason trade, Faried appeared in just 12 games for the Nets, averaging 9.8 minutes per night.

New York Notes: Dolan, Durant, Russell, Nets

With Kristaps Porzingis sidelined due to his ACL tear, the Knicks have lacked star power this season, something owner James Dolan observed this week, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News details. Drawing a line between the Knicks and the other team he owns – the NHL’s New York Rangers – Dolan suggested that his NBA club would “probably be competing for a playoff spot” if it featured a star player like Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Instead, the 10-30 Knicks are just two games away from having the NBA’s worst record. Although New York has been focusing on developing its young players at the expense of some veterans’ playing time, Dolan dismissed the idea that he’s in favor of tanking, per Bondy.

“You have responsibility to the fans,” Dolan said. “Fans pay for tickets and they deserve (the) best game you can give them. That’s probably No. 1. But when you go in and tell a team, even if you’re just telling the coach, to lose the game, you’re dispiriting your team. That hurts more than getting a better draft pick helps. It’s hard to reignite the spirit of the team.”

While Dolan publicly disavowed the idea of tanking, he did acknowledge that he hears from plenty of Knicks fans who want the team to lose in order to have a chance to draft “this kid out of Duke.” NBA executives generally aren’t permitted to publicly comment on college underclassmen, but the league isn’t expected to take action against Dolan for his oblique reference to top prospect Zion Williamson, tweets Bondy.

Let’s round up a few more items on the NBA’s two New York clubs…

  • Kevin Durant didn’t offer up any juicy comments today when he was grilled by New York reporters about the idea of joining the Knicks in free agency later this year, but he also didn’t seem to mind the back-and-forth, Bondy writes in a separate Daily News story. “I wish it was the other way where it was totally about the game, but I get it,” Durant said. “Our league has grown so much in popularity. The sexy thing is what happens in the summer moreso than what happens in the season – playoffs and free agency is the big thing now. I get it.”
  • After starting his 41st game of the season on Monday, Nets guard D’Angelo Russell has officially met the “starter criteria” for restricted free agents, as Bobby Marks of ESPN.com observes (via Twitter). That means that Russell’s projected qualifying offer ($9.16MM) and cap hold ($21.06MM) for this summer will remain unchanged — both would have been reduced if he hadn’t started at least 41 games or played 2,000 minutes this season.
  • Hamstrung for years by their infamous trade with the Celtics, the Nets aren’t in the same class as the C’s, who comfortably beat them on Monday, but Brooklyn’s future looks much brighter than it once did, says Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com.

Atlantic Notes: Butler, Russell, Raptors, Wanamaker

Sixers coach Brett Brown is defending Jimmy Butler, saying he wasn’t disrespectful when he questioned the way he’s being used in the offense, according to an Associated Press story. ESPN reported Friday that Butler has “aggressively challenged” Brown since being acquired from the Timberwolves in November and has “tenuous” chemistry with fellow stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Meeting with reporters before tonight’s game, Brown tried to calm the situation.

“I didn’t feel like any of that crossed the line,” he said of Butler’s comments. “He’s vocal. He’s all in and he has opinions, but it’s instigated by me. None of this should surprise anybody. He’s got opinions. He wants to be heard. And he should be heard.”

Butler missed the game with a respiratory infection and wasn’t available for comment. He reportedly wants to be utilized more often in pick-and-roll situations, which aren’t a standard part of Brown’s offense.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell has improved significantly during his second season in Brooklyn, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Russell, who is averaging career highs with 18.2 points and 6.4 assists per game, is headed for restricted free agency this summer but indicated a desire to stay with the Nets. “We’re winning,” he said. “I haven’t won a lot in this league, so for me to get that type of success, I’m going to stick with it.”
  • As Kyle Lowry missed his sixth straight game tonight with back trouble, the Raptors are looking for another playmaker before next month’s trade deadline, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. He states the best target would be the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague, who isn’t being shopped but has become more expendable with productive seasons from Derrick Rose and Tyus Jones. Other possibilities include the Mavericks’ J.J. Barea or Devin Harris and the Hawks’ Jeremy Lin.
  • Brad Wanamaker was as surprised as anyone when Celtics coach Brad Stevens told him to check in during the first quarter last night, relays Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. It was the 15th game of the season for the 29-year-old rookie, but most of his time has come late in games that were already decided. He responded with a pair of 3-pointers to help Boston build a lead. “The key word is challenging,” Wanamaker said. “I’m just trying to stay mentally prepared. I’m getting a lot of feedback from my family, friends, just saying, ‘Stay ready.’”

Scotto’s Latest: Bazemore, Porter, Holiday, Dieng

Any team that trades for Hawks forward Kent Bazemore should prepare to pay him beyond this season, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Scotto shares a few rumors in a column on New Year’s resolutions for all 30 teams, including a report that Bazemore is leaning toward exercising his $19.27MM player option for next year.

That would represent a modest raise for the 29-year-old, who is making a little more than $18MM this season. Bazemore, who is sidelined with a right ankle sprain that will keep him out for at least two weeks, is one of the most popular names on the trade market, with the Rockets among the teams already expressing interest in acquiring him.

Scotto offers a few more interesting tidbits sprinkled among his advice for 2019:

  • The Mavericks have expressed interest in trading for Wizards forward Otto Porter. Washington faces luxury tax concerns this season and beyond and will owe Porter nearly $56MM over the next two years if he exercises his player option for 2020/21. Porter’s production has declined in his sixth season, and the Wizards may concentrate on fixing their long-term salary structure after John Wall elected to have heel surgery that will sideline him for six to eight months.
  • After losing out on the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes, the Rockets have continued to search for a defensive-minded wing who can hit 3-pointers. Among the players they called about is Justin Holiday, who is averaging 11.8 PPG with the Bulls and ranks eighth in the league in made threes with 96. Holiday has an expiring $4.4MM deal, so he would be a low-cost option for any contender. Houston is also looking for a rim protector to back up Clint Capela.
  • The Timberwolves tried again to find a taker for center Gorgui Dieng, who has become a little-used reserve, playing just 13.7 minutes per night. Minnesota attempted to unload Dieng, who is owed about $33.5MM over the next two seasons, in Butler trade talks but couldn’t find anyone willing to take on that salary.
  • D’Angelo Russell‘s friendship with Suns star Devin Booker may make him an option for Phoenix. Russell is headed for restricted free agency this summer and the Suns need a long-term solution at point guard. The extension the Nets gave to Spencer Dinwiddie could make them reluctant to invest heavily in Russell.