Brooklyn Nets: D’Angelo Russell can live wherever he wants

Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell reportedly has interest in moving to Manhattan. Not playing there, just living there. So no need to panic.

A report came out last week that Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell, per the report’s source, wants to move to Manhattan.

Given (a) the current state of NBA analysts spending an inordinate amount of time attempting to divine great meaning from trivial bits of information and (b) Russell’s pending status as a restricted free agent … yeah, there was some alarm bells ringing.

Longtime friend of the site Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson cited a source saying Russell wants to upgrade to a Manhattan home this summer after he signs a new deal. You can read the entire piece here.

I get it. If I were 23 years old and about to sign a contract for four to five years for high-eight to low-nine figures … before the decimal point … a move to a posh crib in Tribeca or Soho or one of Manhattan’s other hot spots would certainly be an option on the table.

Maybe, given his interest in designing hats and such, the Garment District would be more up DLo’s alley … or street.

And with star turns like the one Russell had Saturday night against the Charlotte Hornets? Dude can live anywhere he wants to.

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Russell went into Kemba Walker‘s house and went toe-to-toe with Charlotte’s three-time All-Star. Both players had big second halves, with Walker scoring 28 of his 32 points after the break.

Russell, though, ended up with the upper hand by scoring 14 of his career-high-matching 40 points in the final 3:24 of the game, including Brooklyn’s last 12 points, in a 117-115 win that had major significance in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The Nets moved two games up on the Hornets, who fell to eighth in the East with the loss, and took a 2-1 lead in their season series with the chance to lock up the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win over Charlotte at home on Friday.

It was just another in what has become a long line of big games for Saturday’s birthday boy, the player who became the youngest in NBA history to score at least 40 points on his birthday.

But it was the way he got to the big 4-0 as he turned the not-so-big 2-3 that was most impressive.

The Nets had squandered a 19-point lead they held early in the second half and Charlotte was threatening to run away and hide with the victory, leading by eight in the closing minutes.

Russell did not let that happen.

Shot after shot went down. He played away from his normal style, driving into the paint and embracing contact to get to the foul line, going 6-for-5 from the stripe.

More than that, Russell would not let his team falter. Instead, he put the club on his back and carried them to a big finish.

After the game, he told YES Network’s Michael Grady that it was about the “poise” of the young club down the stretch. It was, in fact, another step in the evolution of a young team that failed to hold leads late in games early in the season, but has learned how to close out those games now.

And then as he spoke with Grady, he fell victim to something that has become a tradition — one Russell himself started last month after an overtime win on the road over the Houston Rockets when he doused Spencer Dinwiddie with a cup of ice water as he was doing the postgame interview.

That game in Houston last month was a night that showed even more evidence to the maturity and evolution of Russell as the leader of the Nets. Dinwiddie carried the load down the stretch and in overtime as Russell remained on the bench.

While on the sidelines, he embraced the role of head cheerleader rather than sulking as many young players in a similar situation would be prone to do.

When the ball was put in his hands Saturday night, Russell delivered an All-Star performance. At this point that’s not a surprise anymore — he is an All-Star and continues to play like one.

And when it was over, all Russell wanted to do was deflect credit.

As I’ve mentioned before, Russell’s work in 2018-19 — his fourth season in the NBA — is a glowing testament to why clubs should be wary of giving up too soon on a young point guard.

Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers is learning that lesson the hard way. He gave up on Russell after just two years, sending him to Brooklyn in a trade on draft night in June 2017 and then taking a swipe at DLo’s leadership skills.

Two years later, those leadership skills have evolved to the point that Russell is the unquestioned straw stirring the drink of a playoff-bound team, albeit one with many challenges still to come.

Brooklyn has to make hay over its next eight games — seven of which are against teams that currently hold losing records.

That’s because in their final 13 games, will play 12 of them — in a row — against teams that currently hold winning records, with nine of those 12 games on the road.

With Russell leading the way with his scoring and his passing — as well as defensive skills that are still often overlooked because narratives in the NBA only change at a glacial pace and Russell was long ago deemed a defensive liability — the Nets have a puncher’s chance in any game they’re in.

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All of that leads to one clear conclusion: Kid can live any damn where he wants to. He’s earned that … or is about to.