In case you missed it in the wake of the Anthony Davis shenanigans over the weekend, sources close to SportsNet New York have an update on what could happen with Nets All-Star D’Angelo Russell:
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 15, 2019
In short: If the Nets sign Kyrie Irving this offseason, then Russell is unlikely to be sporting a Brooklyn uniform next season. That news doesn’t come as a huge shock, especially because they primarily play the same position, but it could eventually have an impact on the Bulls. Stick with me.
While the Nets do have two max slots available, it’s safe to assume any second star free agent signing would aim to satisfy a different position. For example, the idea of signing Irving and Kevin Durant was originally a top priority for several teams with the appropriate cap space, Brooklyn included. Indeed, plenty of rumors have circled around Irving actively recruiting Durant to team up alongside him. And while it’s unclear how Durant’s injury might impact their plans, other names such as Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris could come into the mix as well.
The Bottom Line: If the Nets sign Irving (and are thus out of the picture for Russell), the Bulls could have a better chance of landing Russell without having to overpay him to leave New York. In fact, without the Nets involved, an initial offer from the Bulls could just be the expected starting max salary of roughly $27 million. To be sure, the Bulls don’t *currently* have enough cap space to pursue Russell (more on that later this week), but getting there wouldn’t be impossible. And, of course, this isn’t the first time the Bulls and Russell have been connected.
But obviously, these aren’t the only concerns. As mentioned previously, LaVine and Russell wouldn’t necessarily be the most natural fit considering how scoring-centric both guards are. However, it’s worth pointing out that Russell has been better facilitating, which is made evident by his 7.0 assists per game last year (11th best in the league).
But assuming the Bulls can find a way to afford Russell *and* believe he could fit with LaVine, there’s still a question of whether or not it’s the right move, given where the organization is in their competitive cycle. For one, signing the All-Star will not be cheap, and will prevent the team from going out and adding more depth to the roster through free agency. For another, if the Bulls make the offer there, the Nets can think about whether they want to match it for about 48 hours, and it’s always possible that during that time another potential Bulls free agent target gets scooped up by another team.
And more more broadly, Russell isn’t the only attractive option out there. Earlier, Michael made the argument for a cheaper alternative, Patrick Beverley, who may not be as singularly talented as Russell, but could be a better bridge piece for a young and talented core (that’s about to get even younger this Thursday).
In any case, we’ll continue to follow along with the Russell news as we always have, but just keep in mind that Irving’s decision with Nets could quickly impact the Bulls in a very significant way.