Celtics

NBA Rumors: Nets interested in Kyrie Irving-D'Angelo Russell pairing

NBA Rumors: Nets interested in Kyrie Irving-D'Angelo Russell pairing

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. 

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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Isaiah Thomas vows to 'get back to a level that I was playing at'

Isaiah Thomas vows to 'get back to a level that I was playing at'

It was only two years ago Isaiah Thomas enjoyed an MVP-caliber season with the Boston Celtics.

Since then, it's been a rough ride for the 5-foot-9 point guard. Thomas hasn't played a full season since 2016 largely due to a nagging hip injury, appearing in only 12 games with the Denver Nuggets in the 2018-19 campaign coming off hip surgery.

Now, as he prepares to enter free agency, Thomas believes he can put in the work to return to form as one of the league's top guards.

"Nobody knew what to expect with me coming off hip surgery last year, and two summers of rehab," Thomas told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. "Now I can go back to being a gym rat this summer, work on my game again and build my body back up --- my muscle mass, my leg strength -- all like I had going into the 2017 season."

Although Thomas never got to contribute to the Nuggets at the level he had hoped, the 30-year-old lauds the organization for helping him get healthy.

"Denver allowed me to take really as much time as I needed, to get back to 100 percent health," he said.

Thomas averaged 28.9 points, 5.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds with the C's in 2016-17 before suffering the hip injury in the postseason and being traded to the Cavaliers in the offseason for Kyrie Irving. He was a second-team All-NBA selection that season and appeared well on his way to becoming a perennial All-Star before his career took a sudden turn.

Now, with those dark times in the rearview, Thomas is ready to prove he still has plenty of those incredible Celtics moments in him.

"I'm going to get back to a level that I was playing at," Thomas said. "I'm excited to show what I can do again."

We'll find out Thomas' new home soon enough, as NBA free agency begins on June 30.

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Reports: Kevin Durant sells his Calif. home, buys one in N.Y.

Reports: Kevin Durant sells his Calif. home, buys one in N.Y.

More real estate news to keep an eye on as NBA free agency approaches Sunday at 6 p.m.

Kevin Durant has sold his Malibu home, according to the Los Angeles Times, and, according to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, he's bought a home in New York.

Durant, who is doubtful to play at all next season after tearing his Achilles' in his brief NBA Finals appearance with the Warriors, opted out of his contract with Golden State and will test free agency, where he'll reportedly meet with the Knicks and where rumors of him teaming with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn abound. 

Bucher, for what it's worth, had the report of Irving buying a home in South Orange, N.J., earlier this month.

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