We are now less than a month away from the start of free agency, as the NBA moved the beginning of the moratorium period to 6:00 p.m. ET on June 30, and there is the expectation that this could be one of the biggest free agency summers in recent memory.
The free agent class of 2019 is headlined by stars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and others, all of whom could be on the move and where they sign will likely determine the balance of power in the league moving forward. Behind that top tier, there are some intriguing free agents that may have to wait a bit until those top guys get sorted out to see what exactly their full markets could be.
D’Angelo Russell is among the players in that next tier, as the Nets’ first-time All-Star point guard will look to cash in on his tremendous season in Brooklyn. The Nets hold the rights to match any deal for their restricted free agent, but also are expected to be players for the likes of Irving and Durant, which will force them to make some decisions about cap holds. That means if Russell agrees to an offer sheet from elsewhere quickly, it will increase the pressure on the Nets to figure out what they’re going to do.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, four teams are expected to pursue Russell.
A market is forming for Nets All-Star and restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell: Utah, Orlando, Minnesota and Indiana are among the teams expected to show an interest aside from Brooklyn, sources said.
None of those teams are particularly surprising, as all have point guard holes to fill. The Jazz are expected to let Ricky Rubio walk in free agency in search of an offensive upgrade to pair with Donovan Mitchell. The Magic’s point guard need has been well-known for over a year, while the Pacers will see Darren Collison become an unrestricted free agent this year and Minnesota is a year away from Jeff Teague entering free agency.
It will also be interesting to see if one of those teams can get a deal done early, given that none of them will be in the hunt for the very top guys, in an effort to apply pressure on the Nets to decide whether to match or pass on an offer sheet.