Gambo: Nets RFA PG D’Angelo Russell not an option for Suns
Brooklyn Nets restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell makes just about all the sense in the world as a target for the Phoenix Suns in free agency.
He’s only 23 years old, is coming off an All-Star season and is good friends with Suns shooting guard Devin Booker.
Not only would the Suns be adding a good piece at a position of need, but they’d be making their franchise player happy with his backcourt mate being his best buddy.
All of that, however, does not appeal to the Suns, according to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro.
Buzz has grown in the Nets’ pursuit of Kyrie Irving, including SNY’s Ian Begley reporting Brooklyn is “unlikely” to have Russell back if they sign Irving.
Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily reports an agreement between the Nets and Irving is “close to a ‘done deal.'”
That opens the market for Russell, but Gambadoro reports Phoenix isn’t treating the point guard as an option.
There are a few reasons as to why the Suns would think this way.
For one, Russell is going to be expensive and the Suns would likely have to pay him a max offer.
Assuming the Suns bring back restricted free agent Kelly Oubre Jr., two avenues for the team to open space for Russell would be trading Tyler Johnson’s expiring contract or packaging wing Josh Jackson and forward T.J. Warren together. Johnson would likely require a first-round pick attached to him in order for the Suns to dump him, while the trade value of Jackson and Warren is a mystery.
Russell stylistically also isn’t the best fit next to Booker.
He’s a score-first point guard and is going to need at least 15 shots a game. Next to Booker, there are also shots that need to be had for center Deandre Ayton and Oubre. Russell’s biggest weakness arguably is his defense, which is an attribute he shares with Booker. That would add up to one of the worst defensive backcourts in the league.
Russell, though, provides plenty for the Suns on the court.
He gives them a true volume shooter, with his solid 36.9% shooting from deep on 7.8 attempts a game. If that sounds run of the mill, the lefty was one of 10 players in the league last season to reach those numbers, per Basketball-Reference. Bet on Booker joining that exclusive club as well after a down year shooting.
While he certainly is a scorer first, Russell has tremendous passing ability and averaged a career-high 7.0 assists per game for Brooklyn last season. If Russell and Booker were to team up, they’d be the only backcourt duo in the league besides Houston’s James Harden and Chris Paul to post at least six assists per game.