With less than a month until the 2019 NBA Draft and less than five weeks before the start of free agency, rumor season is in full swing. Kyrie Irving's decision seems to be the major domino to fall this summer, and there has been no shortage of takes on where he will end up.
Brian Windhorst has said he believes Irving is interested in signing with the Lakers and that LeBron James will make a run at recruiting him, but Jackie MacMullen threw some cold water on that recently. Windhorst also suggested the Knicks and Nets are higher on Irving's list of potential destinations than the Lakers, and it appears the interest is mutual on Brookyln's end.
A source tells me that there are some within the #Nets organization that feel a D'Angelo Russell-Kyrie Irving pairing could work, that the two All-Star point guards could not only coexist but thrive. Story on the way.— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) May 25, 2019
Russell is coming off a career year, posting career highs in points, assists, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and usage rate. He made his first All-Star team in 2018-19 and led the Nets to their first playoff appearance since 2015.
Russell is also a restricted free agent, meaning he can negotiate and sign offer sheets with other teams, but the Nets ultimately have the right to match any offer and retain his services unless Russell signs a one-year qualifying offer worth roughly $9.16 million. Given the Nets' salary cap situation, they could potentially add two star players earning max-contracts and then re-sign Russell to a rookie scale extension.
Whether the Nets believe Irving and Russell could thrive together, the fit is still questionable. Both players are used to having the ball in their hands, and while Irving had success playing off the ball with the Celtics, the primary ball handler on the floor with him was Marcus Smart.
Russell is more of a shoot-first guard, so if he shared a backcourt with Irving, somebody's going to sacrifice shots in spots they're comfortable in. Given Irving's superstar status and elite scoring ability, that player would likely be Russell.
This is not even factoring in the variable of that second max-contract player. If Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard go to Brooklyn with Kyrie, it would make for a team loaded with ball-dominant players.
Irving certainly has a lot of options this summer, and while most of the buzz has been centered around teams other than the Celtics, it'd be surprising if Boston isn't under serious consideration come June 30.
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