Brooklyn could gift D’Angelo Russell to the Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns D'Angelo Russell Devin Booker (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns D'Angelo Russell Devin Booker (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Imagine if the Phoenix Suns acquired point guard D’Angelo Russell, and neither had to give up a player through trade nor compete against other teams in restricted free agency. It could happen.

It feels both redundant and an unintentional knock against your intelligence for me to make this next statement, but it must be said anyway: the Phoenix Suns are in desperate need of acquiring a legitimate starting point guard.

It just so happens that one of Devin Booker’s best friends is a point guard; that the Phoenix Suns could have interest in this point guard; and that said point guard can be had for nothing more than a long-term contract.

That player is, of course, current Brooklyn Nets star D’Angelo Russell, someone who would look very nice suited up in the Suns’ starting lineup next to Booker for the foreseeable future.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

The problem with acquiring him is that as a restricted free agent of the Nets, not only can his current team match any offer that a competitor in the market might throw at him, but they can offer more  if they so chose.

Both Suns fans and the franchise  might very well want him, but not only does Brooklyn have first rights, but he is a very good – and still developing – young PG, so why would they want to give him up for free?

It’s simple: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Or Kawhi Leonard and Kemba Walker.

Or any other superstar duo who are free agents and want to team up to dominate the Eastern Conference.

As the Nets’ roster currently stands, they cannot sign two max free agents without a number of moves happening first (moves they most certainly would not make unless they had the guarantee of two superstar free agents – a situation that I do not recall happening since Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady both signed with the Orlando Magic in 2000).

To make such a splash happen, they Nets need to clear up an obscene amount of space under their cap, and of the multiple moves that they would need to make (including trade Allen Crabbe’s $18.5M contract for 2019-20), one would be to renounce the rights to D’Angelo Russell (and his $21M restricted free agent cap hold) effectively making him an unrestricted free agent.

At that point, the level of recruitment that Devin Booker would need to do is a single brief text: “My guest room is available until you sign.”

In one fell swoop, the Phoenix Suns could add a desperately needed star starting point guard (presumably appeasing their other star player whose only experience with consistency in his career has been inconsistency), and aside from their own cap space, give up absolutely nothing to get him.

Ideally they would add Zion Williamson with the first overall pick – but we’ll just stick to the upgrading point guard.

Imagine that: the Phoenix Suns adding a star point guard without losing a single additional asset to make the move happen.

Sure, fans are both hoping for and expecting multiple moves to be made this offseason (Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Kelly Oubre, Mikal Bridges, and Tyler Johnson should all be on notice – not that any one in particular should  be traded, any one or more of them could  be traded), but if Phoenix has the ability to improve any position without either giving up any of their young assets (thus retaining the ability to move any of them in additional deals to shore up other weaknesses), or tying their money up for an extended period of time while the Nets deliberate on whether or not to match it, that would be a huge  win.

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Ultimately this dream scenario might just go up in smoke like the proverbial pipe it is smoked in, yet the possibility is a legitimate one. And if Phoenix has neither the ability to draft Zion or Ja Morant, their best hope for significant improvement will come from outside the rest of the league.

In this case, that means rooting for two superstars on other teams to team up together on the Brooklyn Nets, forcing D’Angelo Russell to be placed in unrestricted free agency.

And if, any number of those players ends up coming from the Western Conference, it’s a win-win-win.