Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell is one motivated guy heading into the 2018-19 season.
Russell and the Nets have yet to open discussions on a contract extension and talks are unlikely to occur before the regular season starts in October. Russell is slated to make $7.02 million this upcoming season. If he and the Nets are unable to agree upon an extension, Russell will enter restricted free agency in the summer of 2019 if Brooklyn offers him a $9.16 million qualifying offer.
Going into a contract year and feeling healthy, Russell is oozing with confidence and says the extension Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker signed (five-years, $158 million) is driving him to be great.
“I’m in the greatest place ever, honestly,” Russell told Michael Scotto of The Athletic. “Like you said, motivation. I see my best friend [Devin Booker] 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. The sky is the limit.”
The Nets acquired Russell from the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2017. In 48 games this past season, Russell averaged 15.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists, shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from three.
Russell, 22, underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery in November to remove loose bodies. The former No. 2 overall pick says he’s not focusing on the extension and wants to let his play do the talking for him.
“That’s not something I can control, so I just want to play, to be honest,” Russell told Scotto. “That’s really been my main focus. Staying healthy and finishing the season on a positive note. As a team, there’s a lot that we can really work on. Those have really been outweighing my thoughts on an extension and all of that.”
The Nets are prioritizing cap space for the summer of 2019 when they’ll potentially have money to sign two max contract players.