D'Angelo Russell Rumors: T-Wolves Confident, Top Nets PG's List Amid Lakers Buzz

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2019

Brooklyn Nets' D'Angelo Russell looks on during the first half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 122-100. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly preparing to make a major run at signing free-agent point guard D'Angelo Russell.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times: "Minnesota is at the top of D'Angelo Russell's free-agent wish list as the opening bell nears, league sources say—with the Timberwolves increasingly confident they can make the necessary salary-cap moves to land him."

Stein added that the Los Angeles Lakers are also gunning for Russell, calling their interest "undeniable," though he added that "Minnesota has made the All-Star guard its top priority in free agency knowing that the Brooklyn Nets mere hours away from the momentous addition of Kyrie Irving."

While the Wolves can focus on Russell, the Lakers are still reportedly in the running for Kawhi Leonard. Until he makes his decision or makes it clear he isn't interested in the Lakers, they'll be in something of a holding pattern.

The Wolves find themselves in their own holding pattern, needing to clear the cap space to be able to sign Russell.

But Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports reported Saturday that "multiple teams have heard that Minnesota is confident that they can trade Andrew Wiggins this summer. Doing so could open up the cap space necessary to sign Russell, who is tight with Karl-Anthony Towns."

Getting off of Wiggins' huge contract—he's owed $122.3 million over the next four seasons—would be a huge accomplishment for new Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. But moving off the salary for the stagnating Wiggins and signing Russell this summer—with teams like the Lakers also reportedly interested—would be an absolute coup.

While Wiggins has never offered an impact on the defensive end, hasn't developed a consistent three-point shot (33.2 percent from deep for his career) and has devolved into a truly inefficient scorer, Russell is fresh off his best season as a pro. He averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game, shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from three.

He's become one of the game's craftier pick-and-roll operators—a role he played frequently in Brooklyn's offense—and a one-two punch of Towns and Russell would be a lot of fun, at least on the offensive end. Add in Robert Covington and Jarrett Culver on the wings, and the Wolves could have quite the foursome to build around.

Everything will depend upon the Wolves moving Wiggins and Russell choosing them in free agency. It's possible that Russell is using the Wolves to leverage every last dollar out of the Lakers. But it feels like a real possibility he could end up with Minnesota.