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NBC/LA: Lakers, D’Angelo Russell ‘set meeting’

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Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Fred Roggin, the long time KNBC LA sportscaster, reports Tuesday that the Lakers are getting serious about wooing D’Angelo Russell...

The Nets are reportedly pursuing two max free agents —specifically Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant— and may be interested in another big ticket item, DeAndre Jordan. So their desire to retain Russell is up in the air. In fact, the Nets can’t even get close to the $70 million in cap space required for two max players without renouncing DLo’s rights.

The All-Star point guard is not without options. He’s a restricted free agent which means starting this weekend, he can sign an offer sheet with another team and wait to see if the Nets match.

The Roggin report follows a comment Monday by Magic Johnson, the former Laker President, that the Lakers should pursue DLo who of course Johnson ushered out the Purple-and-Gold door two years ago, trading him and Timofey Mozgov for Brook Lopez and a late first round pick.

“He’s better now,” Johnson told The Athletic on Monday night, tapping his right temple with an index finger as he stood in a parking lot outside the NBA Awards at the Santa Monica Airport. “He’s a different player. He’s more mature.”

Also, Adrian Wojnarowski said on ESPN that the Lakers may very well “get involved” with Russell.

The Lakers, who traded for Anthony Davis before the Draft, need a point guard. They have more than $20 million in salary cap space they could use to tender Russell an offer sheet. Once Russell signs an offer sheet, the Nets would have 48 hours to match. Matching, of course, would mean Brooklyn would have to give up its dream of bringing both Irving and KD to Barclays Center. A sign-and-trade is considered unlikely because of sanctions against such deals in the new collective bargaining agreement.

Zach Lowe, in a column published earlier Tuesday, laid out other possibilities for Russell, listing Indiana, Dallas, Orlando, Minnesota and even the Knicks. Lowe believes there is some truth of reports that L.A. may have interest, but “L.A. has a lot to sort out.”

In surveying the landscape for Russell, Lowe lays out roadblocks Russell might face in getting a near maximum contract.

Orlando can open about $18 million in room only by renouncing rights to Nikola Vucevic. The Suns will sign a veteran point guard, and Devin Booker has campaigned for Russell -- a close friend. But other voices within the Suns may not share Booker’s unabashed enthusiasm, sources say. They have only about $14 million or so in cap space as of now. We’ll see how Phoenix approaches the point guard market. Indiana will have a hole at the position if Darren Collisonleaves, and they will look at lots of targets -- including Russell. But they have so far focused on Ricky Rubio, sources have said.

(There is at least a kernel of truth to the Lakers’ interest in a reunion, sources say, but L.A. has a lot to sort out. Russell fits the Knicks’ timeline in case they strike out on bigger fish, but all indications are that New York will pursue short-term deals in that scenario, sources say. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ pathway to a Russell deal is murky. Other unexpected sign-and-trade candidates will poke around.)

Lowe also lays out the debate over whether the Nets should re-sign Russell or go for Irving, citing statistics and locker room issues, concluding...

Almost no one inside the league thinks this is an easy decision. The Nets could talk themselves into either direction. But the bet here is that if Irving wants to come, the Nets will sign him -- with or without Durant -- and figure out the rest later.

Similarly, Dan Devine of The Ringer wonders if the Nets have qualms about chemistry issues that arose during Irving’s time in Boston and whether that could effect their decision.

The calculus is complicated. Irving is the better player—a six-time All-Star fresh off an All-NBA second team selection, a marksman who’s made better than 40 percent of his 3-point attempts in four of the past five seasons, and a half-court locksmith capable of deconstructing virtually any defense. But he comes with some glaring concerns, headlined by those nettlesome chemistry questions. During that same Lowe Post podcast, ESPN salary cap guru/former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks invoked Deron Williams’s dour tenure with the franchise, a point of comparison that likely sent shivers down Nets fans’ spines.

The Nets would prefer that Russell wait until they can sort out the bigger items on their agenda before signing an offer sheet and force the issue and Russell has said he’s prepared to wait. However, it’s hard to imagine he would put the Nets interest above his own.