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It’s nearly impossible that every Net will stay... but they want to

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Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Ed Davis said it best. “I’ve never been on a team where you brought back the same group,” the nine-year veteran noted. “So that’s not going down.”

But that wasn’t stopping the Nets free agents from saying they’d like to be back in Brooklyn next season.

“I definitely want to be here,” said the Nets biggest free agent, D’Angelo Russell. “But I also know it’s a business, too. So I’m not going to play that role like I don’t know what could possibly happen,” he offered. “Say somebody comes here that I have to be a part of to get them, I know that could be a possibly. So I just want to stay in this moment and not speak too soon about anything.”

Russell also praised his coach.

“It’s crazy. The growth in relationships, genuine relationships, it’s a beautiful thing, to be honest,” he said of Kenny Atkinson.

“I take pride in creating genuine relationships with people that genuinely care about you. And coach is one of the most genuine, emotional, man he’s a great dude. And I thank him as much as I can just for giving me the opportunity to come over here and be me and learn how to be a better me at the same time. And he gave me the guidance.”

Caris LeVert, Russell’s backcourt mate – most of the time – also wants to stay. And although his free agency isn’t immediate, the Nets are likely to extend him after July 1, the first day third-year players on rookie deals can sign up to a long-term deal.

“I would love to play here as long as possible. I love the city of Brooklyn. I love the coaches and the team here, so whatever we decide to do I’ll be happy with,” said LeVert, who calculated his words carefully.

The Nets list of free agents is long. In addition to D’Lo, the Nets have team options on Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham and decisions on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll, Jared Dudley and Davis. Theo Pinson is a restricted free agent as well.

So questions were asked and answered at Wednesday’s exit interviews, aka “bag day.”

Davis, Carroll and Dudley – the Nets emotional leaders in the just-completed turnaround season – will all dive into free agency on July 1 as unrestricted free agents. Russell is a restricted free agent, which means the Nets can match any offer sheet tendered by another team.

It will be DLo’s first free agency and he’s looking forward to it but was honest is saying he doesn’t know how it will work out.

“Yeah, hell yeah,” responded Russell when asked if he’s excited to hit the open market. “I don’t know what I’m signing up for. I don’t know – all I know is the ticker, what I see on the ticker. But I don’t know the process you got to go through to get through it. I don’t know what the conversations are going to be like. I don’t know any of that so I can’t speak on it, honestly.”

LeVert isn’t a restricted free agent until 2020, but is eligible for an extension this summer, and the Nets have until October to come to terms, if they elect not to wait out the 2019-2020 season,

“I think it’s a great place to come,” LeVert said, seemingly ready to deal whenever the Nets are ready. “Obviously, a great city, a basketball city. We’re growing as a franchise, great coaches. I feel like the team made a lot of noise this year.”

As for Davis, one of the NBA’s elite rebounders per 36 minutes or per 100 possessions this past season, kept it real, as always. Whether the Nets keep Russell and LeVert, something is missing and needs to be addressed.

“I do think you have to add players. You have to get better in this league. You definitely need stars to go far in the playoffs. I definitely think adding a star to this organization would definitely take it a little further. Bringing back the same group, you have to improve some way, somehow,” Davis said, then noting he’d like to return.

“Me personally, I would love to be back. But y’all know how free agency works. Sean, they’re going to go after the top free agents as they should, and then however it goes, if everybody else falls in line, that’s just how it works and we’ll see what happens.”

Dudley doesn’t know if he’ll be back either – and he’d like to – but he says his one season in Brooklyn ranks among the best of his 12-year career.

“I think when you think of the brand of basketball Brooklyn plays, the city, living in New York – some people don’t want to live in New York – so you’re going to get those percentages. But for me and my experience this year, it’s been a great experience. To live in the city, I mean, you can live in the city, live in Brooklyn, the practice facility is right here. It’s probably a top-three best practice facility,” he said.

Dudley, as he often does, went on to say that the secret is out about Brooklyn, which bodes in favor of the organizations off-season aspirations, however ambitious they may be. Winning will do that.

“The word is out. People know about it. People know how good Kenny and Sean Marks are and what they’ve done to develop this culture. No draft picks, trading players, people that were — myself, DC (DeMarre Carroll), that were what, garbage-type players that you thought their careers were over, not only reviving, knowing that they’re contributors and that has to do with them, has to do with us as players,” Dudley added.

Dudley also spoke about Jarrett Allen’s potential, comparing him to other athletic NBA big,s including Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“Because people talk about the Russell’s and all that Jarrett Allen is the key. He’s the key ‘cause he’s the foundation. He blocks the shot, he’s (catching the drop-offs and he’s the one that going to give you 18 points without even calling a play in his level. And so, it’s definitely going to be an interesting summer.”

As for Carroll, ask the missus.

“It’s up to my wife,” he says, almost comically, of his pending free agency. “My wife, she loves Brooklyn, the kids love it. So it’s up to her. I can…I actually had a conversation with her last night and you know, she said ‘I determine everything.’”

Asked if his wife as a list for Carroll, he doesn’t oblige. We may have to ask her at some point, he suggested, though it appears that Brooklyn is high on the “list.”

“I’m telling you, man. One day y’all have to interview my wife,” he said with a smile. “I told you she says ‘I’m dictating this free agency. It’s been 10 years and I’ve been sitting aside’ and she said ‘it’s my time.’ So it’s her time, all I can do is sit back. I hope my wife picks a good destination and hopefully it’s back here but we’ll see what happens.”

So, the consensus is that everyone seemingly wants to stay. The only Net who appeared to want out at any point this season was Kenneth Faried, who’s now with the Houston Rockets. It’s a valuable thing that everyone wants back. It will be helpful this summer in recruiting and this fall when the players take the court knowing their teammates. Bottom line: this is the most important off-season in franchise history.

No big deal …