Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
As of late this week, teams interested in pursuing Kyrie Irving remained under the impression that the Nets were the odds-on favorite to land the point guard, per sources. But no team interested in Irving, including the Knicks and Lakers, had been led to believe that they are out of the running to sign him, those sources say.
If Irving ends up signing in Brooklyn, it may have an interesting ripple effect on the roster, particularly D'Angelo Russell.
Russell, a restricted free agent, will likely draw significant interest on the open market. The 23-year-old is coming off of an All-Star season in which he helped lead Brooklyn to the playoffs. Members of the Pacers organization are high on Russell, SNY sources confirm.
Russell showed this season that he is one of the top young players in the free agent class. He's one of only four point guards in the last 15 years to average at least 20 points and seven assists per game before the age of 23. The others were Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.
Russell is also one of eight players in the past decade to average at least 24 points, eight assists and four rebounds per 75 possessions (Westbrook, James Harden, Steph Curry, Rose, Dwyane Wade, John Wall and Irving are the others).
But the Nets' hopes of landing stars in Brooklyn will have an impact on Russell's future with the club.
If Irving signs with the Nets, SNY sources familiar with the matter say it is highly unlikely that Russell remains with the Nets. Members of the Nets organization have communicated that idea in recent days, per sources.
ESPN reported that Brooklyn is interested in signing Irving and Durant together. The Knicks remain interested in the same scenario.
Brooklyn would need to rescind Russell to create the space to sign two max free agents.
The Nets currently project to be able to create as much as $66M of cap room if they renounce all their free agents, but that would reduce to $46M if they retain Russell's $21M cap hold, per Albert Nahmad.
If the Nets rescinded their rights to Russell, they'd still need to clear roughly $2.5 million in space to afford two free agents like Durant and Irving, but there are several paths to create that extra space.
The Pacers and others interested in Russell are obviously hoping that the Nets rescind him so they don't need to tie up their cap space with an offer sheet.
If the Nets don't rescind Russell and he signs an offer sheet, Brooklyn would have two days to match the offer. The clock for matching begins at the end of the league moratorium, which lasts through July 6. Russell's cap hold during that two-day period would remain at $21 million.
It will be interesting to see what the market for Russell is this summer. Restricted free agency is always tricky, but it's perhaps worth noting that all of the players who reached the statistical milestones above earned max contracts. So Russell should earn a significant contract this summer, whether it's from the Nets or another suitor.
The Nets could execute a sign-and-trade with Russell if he doesn't sign an offer sheet with another team. But they'd need to identify the right situation. There are a few complicating factors. Among them: there is no benefit for teams who have the cap room to sign Russell outright to instead give up assets to acquire him in a sign-and-trade. If the Nets signed and traded Russell to a team that doesn't have cap room, the receiving team would need to salary-match. That means either the Nets would need to take salary back, or a third team would need to get involved. Also, the team who received Russell in a sign-and-trade would be hard-capped at the apron for the rest of the season (projected at $138M), Nahmad notes.
Indiana's interest in Russell was first reported by The Athletic.