The Nets made a qualifying offer to restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell on Friday, one day ahead of the deadline, according to a report by Shams Charania of The Athletic that was confirmed to Newsday by an NBA source.
Russell has one sneaker out the door if reports prove true that Celtics free-agent point guard Kyrie Irving is on the verge of signing with the Nets after free agency talks open at 6 p.m. Sunday. As a defensive measure, the Nets had to extend the qualifying offer to Russell in case Irving changes course and goes elsewhere.
Russell’s qualifying offer keeps his cap hold of close to $21.1 million in place and leaves the Nets with $46 million in cap room, which is enough to sign one maximum-salary free agent with plenty of room to spare. But it can be rescinded if the Nets need room to sign two maximum-salary free agents.
Until recently, the Nets were regarded as favorites to land Warriors forward Kevin Durant, but the latest rumors say they no longer are in the pole position. The Nets can offer a four-year deal worth $164 million, but the Warriors can keep him with a five-year deal for $221 million, an additional $57 million. Irving reportedly has tried to recruit Durant to the Nets, but those basketballs are all up in the air.