Brooklyn Nets: D’Angelo Russell hits starter criteria for restricted free agency

Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell Kyrie Irving (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell Kyrie Irving (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

By making his 41st start of the season Monday night, Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell locked in his qualifying offer for restricted free agency.

If the Brooklyn Nets want to retain the right of first refusal on free agent point guard D’Angelo Russell this summer, it will take a qualifying offer of $9.16 million and require a cap hold of of $21.06 million.

Russell reached the “starter criteria” in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement as it pertains to players in the final year of their rookie contract, as spelled out by Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors.

The $9.16 million qualifying offer springs from Russell’s draft position and his fourth-year salary. The qualifying offer for Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, is a 30.5 percent increase over his fourth-year salary, per Larry Coon of NBA CBA FAQ.

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Russell’s salary cap number for this season is roughly $7.02 million, per Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights, which yields the qualifying offer figure of $9.16 million.

The starter criteria language can either reward or penalize a draft pick — based on the position at which they were chosen:

  • A player picked in the top 14, such as Russell, that does not meet the starter criteria has their QO set at 120 percent of the QO figure for the 15th overall pick.
  • A player picked between No. 10 and No. 30 (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson falls into this category) that reaches the starter criteria has their QO set at 120% of the QO figure for the ninth overall pick.

A player reaches starter criteria if they start at least 41 games or play 2,000 minutes in the final season of their contract or if they average 41 starts or 2,000 minutes per season over the final two years of their rookie deal.

Hollis-Jefferson, currently out with a right adductor strain, has started 19 games this season and 78 over the last two seasons, so he needs just four more starts this year to reach the average of 41.

That is the more likely avenue for RHJ, who has played 816 minutes this season and 2,736 over the last two combined.

If Hollis-Jefferson reaches the starter criteria, his qualifying offer would be set at $5.9 million, 120 percent of the qualifying offer allocated for the No. 9 overall pick in 2015, Frank Kaminsky of the Charlotte Hornets.

If RHJ falls short of that criteria, the qualifying offer would be a 45.5 percent increase over his 2018-19 salary of $2.47 million, or $3.59 million, based on his draft position in 2015 at No. 23 overall.

Russell and Hollis-Jefferson are the only two players on the Nets that can become restricted free agents this summer. DeMarre Carroll, Kenneth Faried, Jared Dudley and Ed Davis are set to his unrestricted free agency, while Allen Crabbe holds an $18.5 million player option for 2019-20.

If the Nets opt to not extend qualifying offers to either Russell or Hollis-Jefferson, they would then become unrestricted free agents and Brooklyn would not be able to match any offers they might receive from other clubs. but their cap holds ($21.1 million for Russell and $7.41 million for RHJ) would remain in place.

The only way for the Nets to free up that cap space prior to either player signing with another team would be to renounce their free-agent exception rights, which would make them unrestricted free agents and strip Brooklyn of its ability to exercise the Bird rights on either player to sign them above the salary cap next season, projected to be $109 million.

The Nets currently have $47.03 million in guaranteed contracts committed for next season and also have Shabazz Napier‘s $1.85 million non-guaranteed deal. They also have $5.47 million in dead money in the form of the final cap hit from buying out Deron Williams in 2016.

But Brooklyn currently has $93.3 million in cap holds it must account for. Carroll’s cap hold is $23.1 million as well as Russell ($21.1 million), Faried ($20.65 million), Dudley ($14.3 million), Hollis-Jefferson ($7.41 million) and Davis ($5.34 million).

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The Nets can open up a projected maximum of $53.8 million in cap space by renouncing those cap holds.