Brooklyn Nets: 3 things to watch against slumping Wizards

Brooklyn Nets Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets D’Angelo Russell. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images) /

3. How does Russell respond?

If Spencer Dinwiddie is in a celebratory mood after agreeing to a new extension, the other point guard for the Brooklyn Nets may be having concerns about his long-term future.

The Nets’ commitment to Dinwiddie almost certainly means D’Angelo Russell‘s time in Brooklyn is very finite, as there are few scenarios beyond this season that allow the Nets to pursue a premier free agent and pay two point guards on eight-figure long-term deals.

Russell certainly hasn’t had a bad season for the Nets, playing in all 29 games while averaging career-highs of 17.9 points and 5.9 assists per game. His 41.6 percent shooting is also on pace to be a career-best, as is his 36.3 percent mark from 3-point range.

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But Russell is also averaging a career-high 16.8 shots and 6.7 3-point attempts per game as he has continued to struggle with efficiency and consistency,

In the first two meetings against the Washington Wizards this season, Russell had mixed results — scoring 23 points with six assists on 8-of-16 shooting in Brooklyn’s 115-104 win at D.C. on Nov. 16, but putting up eight points with seven assists on 3-of-8 shooting in a 102-88 loss on Dec. 1.

Russell is clearly auditioning for 29 other teams for a contract next summer as a free agent.

He was not extended by the Oct. 15 deadline and is set to become a restricted free agent, but may wind up being unrestricted if Brooklyn opts to renounce his rights to release his $21.1 million cap hold.

Russell assumed more of a leadership mantle this season and has said and done all the right things, even as he was benched in crunch time in a handful of games — including Wednesday’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers, when he was limited to 22 minutes while Dinwiddie had a career night.

He also has been asked to do more in the wake of Caris LeVert’s dislocated foot sustained on Nov. 12, with his usage percentage at 31.4 percent in 14 games since then. That percentage was at 28.3 percent in the 14 games in which LeVert was available.

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Russell’s maturity came into question for some decisions he made early in his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s been nothing but a solid pro in his two seasons with the Nets. Don’t expect that to change, because that could seriously damage his marketability next summer.