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Nets unsure of Kyrie Irving as solo act, would keep D’Angelo Russell if they can’t land 2nd star

Nets, D'Angelo Russell, Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets are unsure of how well they would do with Kyrie Irving as a solo act, and would rather keep restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell instead of signing Irving without a second star to play alongside him, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Nets simply won’t make D’Angelo Russell a priority in this upcoming free agency, but rather a contingency plan if they somehow strike out with pitches to max-level stars.

“What Brooklyn would like to have it’s not just Kyrie Irving, but a second star to come along with him,” said Wojnarowski on ESPN’s Get Up. “Obviously Kevin Durant is that player. If they don’t get a second star, it’ll be interesting to see if Brooklyn wants to have Kyrie Irving as a solo act — that didn’t go so great in Boston last year. So we’ll see if Brooklyn is just following through on Kyrie Irving, because if they don’t take Kyrie Irving, they can just bring back D’Angelo Russell on a lower number, younger player.

Their focus for the Nets — let’s get two stars with Kyrie Irving, to try to get him to recruit KD for them to play together.”

That second strategy alone would set the Brooklyn ship back quite a bit, as there isn’t even a guarantee that Durant would suit up for any team during the 2019-20 season, expected to miss all of it as it stands.

The Nets would have to withstand likely a full year of Irving running the team, and he’s a player who has had his share of injuries in his young career, making that an even more worrisome proposition.

Keeping Russell, however, gives them more cap flexibility, a higher ceiling, and the opportunity to still add supporting talent to boost their playoff chances after a surprising 2018-19 season.