D’Angelo Russell was not aware of link between him and the Phoenix Suns
Leave it to the exit interview right before Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell enters restricted free agency as the moment he finds out about another team he’s being linked to.
Due to the Phoenix Suns desperately needing a point guard and Russell’s friendship with Suns shooting guard Devin Booker, there’s been noise around the two sides.
The tea started brewing in late February when Russell posted a photo of Booker wearing his All-Star jersey. The spice was in Booker reposting that photo on his Instagram story, a photo that had his handle tagged alongside a fingers crossed emoji.
That and the neverending search for Suns fans to figure out who the team could potentially go after this offseason has brought Russell’s name near or at the top of those conversations.
Well, he was asked about it on Wednesday and apparently, he had no idea.
D'Angelo Russell was asked if there's any link to Phoenix due to @DevinBook:
"I’m linked to them because of him? S— I didn’t know that. That’s my brother right there. So even if there’s no link to it or w/e we’re still going to be best friends… It’s bigger than basketball."
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) April 24, 2019
Russell’s Nets were eliminated in the playoffs by the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, and even though he struggled in that series with efficiency, the former No. 2 overall pick’s strong 2018-19 season is going to earn him a whole lot of money.
The 23-year-old averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game for Brooklyn this season, shooting a career-high 43.4% from the field and 36.9% from deep.
From a Suns perspective, it’s a challenge in figuring out how the Suns would outright agree to an offer sheet with Russell. Due to cap holds on Kelly Oubre Jr. and Richaun Holmes, the Suns’ cap space will be tight in the offseason. And if they were to agree to a deal with Oubre that figures to be more than eight figures, they’d have little to no room. That’s not even factoring the possibility of Russell getting the max, which could very well be what happens with him in July.
A sign-and-trade remains the best possibility with Tyler Johnson’s expiring contract and other assets, but considering Russell’s breakout year and Brooklyn making the playoffs, it’s hard to imagine the Nets forfeiting their comfortable position in having Russell as an RFA with a boatload of cap space.