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D'Angelo Russell Rumors: Jazz 'Like' Nets PG, Only Interested as UFA

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2019

Brooklyn Nets' D'Angelo Russell in action during the second half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday, April 15, 2019, in Philadelphia. 76ers won 145-123. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

D'Angelo Russell's future is in flux. If the Brooklyn Nets sign Kyrie Irving this summer, they likely won't match any offer sheets he signs with other teams, as Russell and Irving don't seem like a natural fit as a backcourt pair.

One team that would have interest in the point guard is the Utah Jazz, though "only if the Nets renounce his cap hold, making him an unrestricted free agent," according to Tony Jones of The Athletic.

Jones added:

"The Jazz are very unlikely to make a substantial offer sheet to Russell or any RFA, because to clear the needed space, they would be forced to renounce the rights to Derrick Favors, and they aren't going to do that for less than a sure thing. So, if the Nets sign a significant free agent or two and Russell shakes loose on the market, the Jazz may explore. But if Russell stays an RFA, it's unlikely the Jazz pursue."

Russell should have his suitors. Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported earlier in June that the Jazz, Orlando Magic, Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers could have interest in the young point guard.

But other teams could join that list. 

One fascinating possibility would be a reunion with the Los Angeles Lakers if they miss out on players like Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker or Jimmy Butler on the market. ESPN's Brian Windhorst brought up that possibility on Monday's Get Up:

"I'll tell you one name that explodes off the page to me that would be incredibly remarkable: D'Angelo Russell. If Kyrie Irving spurns the Lakers and the Knicks to go sign with the Nets, D'Angelo Russell could end up being an unrestricted free agent and he would be the exact kind of player that you would want to put alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Now, obviously the Lakers traded him away because of all the issues he was having in the locker room. That said, all those folks who he had issues with are gone; [Magic Johnson], Nick Young, a lot of those other teammates. I think they should at least consider it."

But Russell could be an interesting backup plan for a number of other teams. If the Philadelphia 76ers lose Butler, Tobias Harris or both players in free agency, Russell—who played with Ben Simmons in high school—would be the sort of perimeter scorer the team could use. 

The Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks, flush with cap space and hardly guaranteed to land an elite free agent, could also look at Russell in free agency, though both teams have young point guards already in place (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Smith Jr., respectively).

As for the Jazz, a Russell-Donovan Mitchell backcourt could be dynamic. Russell is excellent in the pick-and-roll and would give the Jazz a second perimeter player who could consistently create his own offense, taking pressure off Mitchell. 

A trio of Russell, Mitchell and Rudy Gobert would make the Jazz a major threat in the Western Conference, though the team's ceiling would likely remain below the true title contenders. But it would be an interesting addition and one that remains a possibility if the Nets renounce Russell's rights this offseason.

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