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NBA Free Agency: Nets unlikely to keep D’Angelo Russell if they sign Kyrie Irving, report says

The Brooklyn Nets are being viewed as one of the frontrunners, if not the leader in the clubhouse, to sign free agent Kyrie Irving this summer. If that happens, the team is “highly unlikely” to keep its own restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell, according to an SNY report. 

From Ian Begley:

As of late this week, teams interested in pursuing Kyrie Irving remained under the impression that the Nets were the odds-on favorite to land the point guard, per sources. But no team interested in Irving, including the Knicks and Lakers, had been led to believe that they are out of the running to sign him, those sources say.

If Irving ends up signing in Brooklyn, it may have an interesting ripple effect on the roster, particularly D’Angelo Russell.

If Irving signs with the Nets, SNY sources familiar with the matter say it is highly unlikely that Russell remains with the Nets. Members of the Nets organization have communicated that idea in recent days, per sources.

As of right now, the Nets have one max salary space available, but they have the ability to create a second one if they cut ties with Russell, who would be a weird fit with Irving anyway with both being ball-dominant guards. This is all assuming the Nets get Irving, of course. That’s no sure bet. 

The idea moving through the undercurrents of the league for some time has been to pair Irving with Kevin Durant. At first the Knicks were supposed to be their preferred destination. Now Irving has been more linked to the Nets. But Durant’s torn Achilles puts a big unknown on how all this plays out. Maybe Kyrie reconsiders going at it as a long star and starts to consider the Lakers, who already have LeBron James and could be on their way to trading for Anthony Davis

If Kyrie doesn’t come to Brooklyn, Russell could still end up re-signing. 

Russell had a career year this season and made his first All-Star appearance. If the Nets do let him walk, a lot of teams will be interested in his services. Begley reports the Indiana Pacers are one of those teams. Others would likely include the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns, and perhaps the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, both of which can get to the cap space that’s probably necessary to sign Russell.