It’s possible that Brooklyn’s season-ending loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday night was D’Angelo Russell‘s last game with the Nets, given that the All-Star point guard is facing restricted free agency this summer. However, Russell told reporters today that he hopes to extend his stay with the franchise a little longer, as Ian Begley of ESPN.com details.
“I definitely want to be here. But I also know it’s a business, too. So I’m not going to play that role like I don’t know what could possibly happen,” Russell said. “Say somebody comes here that I have to be a part of (a transaction to acquire them), I know that could be a possibility. So I just want to stay in this moment and not speak too soon about anything.”
A former No. 2 overall pick, Russell enjoyed a breakout season for the Nets in 2018/19, establishing new career highs in PPG (21.1), APG (7.0), FG% (.434), and 3PT% (.369), among other categories. The 23-year-old’s performance set him up well for free agency, particularly since Brooklyn and several other teams around the NBA have the cap flexibility to accommodate a maximum-salary contract.
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While it remains to be seen if Russell will get a max offer from the Nets or another team, league sources have intimated that he’ll likely be seeking one, Brian Lewis of The New York Post wrote this week. As I’ve noted before, considering how active GM Sean Marks has been on the restricted free agent market in recent years, it isn’t unrealistic to expect a rival team to return the favor by going after Russell with an aggressive offer sheet, forcing the Nets into a tough decision.
While Russell would have to listen if another team came up with a more lucrative offer than Brooklyn’s, the point guard’s familiarity with the franchise means the Nets will enter free agency with a leg up on re-signing him.
“Yeah, for sure, for sure,” Russell said, according to Begley, when asked if he’ll favor the Nets over other suitors. “I don’t know any other teams, 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.”