The man who used to be famous for saying he had “ice in his veins” is now dealing with the reality of watching his market heat up. Despite being traded for stupid reasons and having a run-in with TSA over possession of some stanky green herbs, the young All-Star is garnering interest from many teams as the solution to their problems at guard. No longer alone in the pitch mob, the Nets now find themselves in the company of the Jazz, Magic, TWolves, and Pacers for the young guards’ future.
Obviously, the two worst teams in this group of five are the Magic and TWolves. Possessing the worst rosters and cap situations to pair with the young guard, he would do a major disservice to his career by accepting offers to those destinations. The Orlando Magic are easily the worst destination. Even though they have another All-Star to pair with D-Lo, said All-Star (Nikola Vucevic) is on the wrong side of the age spectrum. To top it off, the Magic possess 5 players on their roster that either are best served at the 4 or 5, and have maybe 1 other player that is serviceable at the other 3 position. D-Lo could easily make the All-Star team on the Magic, and can help the Magic go from the 8th seed to the 5th-6th seed. However, they will never get out of the first round, and the team is a major step-back from the situation he is in with the Nets. The Minnesota TimberWolves, while still being a worse situation than the Nets, are a better destination than the Magic. The TWolves showing that they are willing to pay D-Lo means that they must have a market for two of the three horrible contracts on their books right now (Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, and Gorgui Dieng). The TWolves possess one of the 5 best bigs in the league with Karl Anthony-Towns, and are set with him at center. Imagine a pick and roll/pop between those two? Deadly to say the least, and thats without them adding any other pieces to this puzzle.
The Jazz and Pacers, on the other hand, are way more intriguing than the Nets. The Pacers, without star SG Victor Oladipo, were one of the best defensive teams in the league. With Dipo back, Myles Turner taking another step forward, and D-Lo by their side? Sounds like the league, let alone the East, would be prepared for what that team will be bringing everyday. However, it is all hypothetical. The only good players under contract for the Pacers currently are Oladipo and Turner, the rest of the starters and bench for the Pacers are hitting the free agency. I am sure they will have to spend quite a bit of their cap on retaining those players, and I don’t know if they will have enough left to get D-Lo and other pieces. On the flip side, the Jazz are perfectly set to offer D-Lo the best situation and contract. With their best players and bench already locked up on team friendly contracts, and the only other competition at point guard already been told that “he is not a priority” to them, the Jazz can offer D-Lo the best place to succeed. With the Warriors break-up eminent, the crown for “Best in the West” is up for grabs, and many teams are trying to reload to do so. Old guard teams like the Thunder, Rockets, and TrailBlazers are trying to add shots of vitality in their systems, while teams that have embraced the youth movement like the Kings and Nuggets are priming themselves to topple the power struggle present in the West. This leaves teams like the Clippers and Jazz in precarious positions, jostling to acquire more stars to make themselves not only relevant, but serious contenders in a loaded conference.
Again though, all these teams may want to sign Russell, but they are heavily disadvantaged when compared to the Nets. Rumors are circulating that Kyrie and KD both have property in New York, and would rather go to the Nets if the Knicks cannot get another All-Star on their roster. The Nets would make a Irving-Russell-Durant lineup work easily, and the bench would be amazing. The important thing to remember though is that this is the RESTRICTED free agency of D-Lo. This means that the Nets hold matching rights over any contract that is offered to him. I fully expect the Nets to match any offer made to the face of their franchise, regardless of weed charges or not.