METUCHEN, NEW JERSEY- In a real-life domino effect that begins at 6pm on June 30, restricted free-agent D’Angelo Russell’s basketball future will be at the mercy of the decisions of other superstars. The Brooklyn Nets have the most cap space in the National Basketball Association ($66,975,950) and have the capital to sign two max-free agents. Russell, who led the team to the playoffs last season (his third) might be the odd man out. He, himself, is seeking a max-deal, but it is unclear if Brooklyn will be the team to offer it to him.
Ironic: his efforts to lead Brooklyn to the playoffs (for the first time in the past five seasons) undoubtedly put Brooklyn on the “desireable destinations in free agency” map. According to reports, it is location number one on Kyrie Irving (an unrestricted free agent)’s list. According to reports, the Nets are “gaining confidence” that they might sign superstar Kevin Durant, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and will miss the entire 2019-2020 season.
There is a real possibility Russell will play basketball in a location other than Brooklyn in the upcoming season. Free agency frenzy and the flames are fanned by social media courtship. In late March, Russell showed his favorite spots in Brooklyn for Durant’s special three-part series called “Fly By”. Was Russell courting Durant to play in Brooklyn?
On Friday, band-new Los Angeles Lakers power forward/center Anthony Davis started following Russell. Is this significant? After all, in an interview, rookie Russell put LeBron James and Davis on his ideal team.
The next day, Russell tweeted a vague two-word phrase that had fans of the Phoenix Suns in a frenzy. Following their logic: Halloween colors are purple and orange their team’s colors… so that must mean Russell traded the concrete jungle for the desert to play ball next season.
Halloween Season 👀
— D’Angelo Russell (@Dloading) June 20, 2019
Today, though, was all about the kids. Speaking at his inaugural youth basketball Procamp, Russell described the value in his experience: “I enjoy kids, honestly, so just getting the opportunity to give a positive influence on these kids’ basketball experience and every day life, I’m enjoying it.”
As far as the campers? Russell immediately pointed to his “hands-on” approach to coaching the kids. He explained that by working one-on-one with the campers, they’re able to ask him individual questions on how to improve their game. To the kids, mostly from the local tri-state area, Russell is their idol. In fact, earlier in the day, he gifted the shoes off his feet to a camper who told him it was his birthday. Even better, Russell autographed the shoes for him. The look on the boy’s face says it all.
— Danielle McCartan (@CoachMcCartan) June 23, 2019
Was that perfect moment preplanned? “He asked!” Russell said. He continued: “Honestly, it was his birthday, so happy birthday to that kid…. People remember that forever, so, I definitely wanted to come in with that type of influence.”
Who would a younger Russell have liked to have a camp with? “I participated in a lot of camps. I think just trying to get the maximum exposure…. just trying to get on the radar.” When I pressed further, he responded: “I don’t have a ‘who’ for you”. He obviously did not want to give a name of a player because maybe, just maybe, that player is still in the league on a team to which Russell’s name has been linked. As he was talking, LeBron James (34-years old) immediately came to my mind. At 23, Russell might get his wish to play with his idol in Los Angeles next season. Only time will tell.
What does it all mean? Russell has a tattoo of a footprint on his right forearm accompanied with the saying “God Guide my Step”. Only God knows which color Russell’s #1 will be next season.