D'Angelo Russell
(AP Photo/Howard Simmons)

Despite all the earlier smoke and mirrors, a Brooklyn Nets pairing of D’Angelo Russell and Kyrie Irving looks unlikely.

Kyrie Irving and D’Angelo Russell would make for a formidable offensive backcourt. Their ballhandling and shot-making ability alone would set them apart from most other backcourts in the NBA.

However, that backcourt is an unlikely proposition for the Brooklyn Nets according to Ian Begley of SNY.

“If Irving signs with the Nets, SNY sources familiar with the matter say it is highly unlikely that Russell remains with the Nets,” wrote Begley. “Members of the Nets organization have communicated that idea in recent days, per sources.”

This is contradictory to earlier reports that the Nets were open to the idea of a Russell-Irving backcourt pairing. Perhaps the Nets have changed their stance on this idea recently.

Or—if you’re reading the tea leaves of free agency—the Nets are confident that they will sign Irving. It would have been unwise to burn bridges with Russell if they were planning on bringing him back next season.

Russell is a restricted free agent this summer. So long as the Nets don’t renounce his cap hold to create salary cap space, they will be able to match any offer that he accepts from another team.

He should receive plenty of interest this summer. There’s no shortage of teams with cap space this summer and Russell represents a potentially franchise-changing option if he continues on his current trajectory.

According to Begley, the Indiana Pacers are interested in the All-Star point guard. Although many Nets fans would hate to see Russell go, he would fit like a glove in Indiana. Russell’s offensive ability could help take the Pacers to the next level and Oladipo’s defense is so good that it would be easier to hide Russell defensively.

The winds of free agency seem to change by the hour. But don’t hold your breath on the Irving-Russell backcourt that once seemed like a possibility.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.