D’Angelo Russell is as confident as he’s ever been and motivated as hell.
Speaking with Bleacher Report, the Brooklyn Nets guard opened up about his feelings for the upcoming season. Russell admitted he’s “in the greatest place ever.” He also said seeing Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, who happens to be his best friend, sign a max contract inspires him to work hard to do the same.
“I’m in the greatest place ever, honestly,” Russell said, per Bleacher Report. “Like you said, motivation. I see my best friend sign a max deal. I know where we came from, so that’s plenty motivation that I need. I wake up every morning and go to train, and I feel like I’m in the best shape. I don’t know. The sky is the limit.”
Still only 22-years-old, Russell’s experienced a plethora of up-and-downs in his NBA career. After being the 2nd pick overall by the Lakers back in the 2015 draft, Russell was seen as the guard of the future in L.A. However, after he filmed then-teammate Nick Young discussing cheating on his girlfriend, the organization lost trust with him and it never came back.
hmmm i see D Angelo Russell is trending… I actually liked his film. Thanks bro.
— IGGY AZALEA (@IGGYAZALEA) March 30, 2016
Less than two years after being drafted by Los Angeles, the Lakers traded Russell to the Nets. In 2017-18, his first season with the club, Russell showed massive promise at point guard, averaging 15.5 points per game, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds on a team that won just 28 games. On the downside, Russell only appeared in 48 of those matches thanks to a knee injury.
So, the question is worth asking, is Russell in line for a max contract? It’s not outrageous to say yes.
The Nets (up until the last year) lacked any young talent, as GM Sean Marks had to get creative in acquiring young talent after the previous management regime sucked the team dry of any assets. Russell represents Marks biggest swing as a GM and somebody who could turn the team around. As long as Russell continues to improve his scoring (leading the Nets in PPG) and develop as a point guard, he’s due for a payday.
Furthermore, the Nets aren’t exactly tied up in cash and would be completely fine overpaying Russell with a max or a very lush contract. The team has just one contract worth more than $7 million on the books past this season. They’re flush with cash (albeit, it could get complicated) and shouldn’t be afraid to lock up their future star, even if it’s on an overpaid contract. A team like Brooklyn can afford to do so.
Big contracts are designated for the best players. But, they’re not always given to the best. Among the players earning $20+ million to the max include Danilo Gallinari, Aaron Gordon, Harrison Barnes, Nicholas Batum, Otto Porter Andrew Wiggins and Hassan Whiteside. Russell isn’t necessarily better than all those players, but he’s definitely in the conversation of earning one and still improving his game in all faucets.
If Russell wants to sign a deal anywhere close to the max, he just needs to stay healthy and continue to produce. It’s that simple. He’s got the talent, he’s motivated and wants it. It’s a good sign for the Nets, whether they pay him big or not.