Motivation

DLo's $158 million 'motivation,' courtesy of DBook

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Mike Scotto writes Wednesday about how the gargantuan contract —$158 million over five years— Devin Booker signed this week is likely to serve as motivation for his good friend, D’Angelo Russell.

“It’s a life-changing moment for all of us,” Booker said after signing his extension, referring his fellow members of the 2015 Draft class. “Obviously, everybody wants to be in that situation to be a max player, and it comes at different times for people, so I think D’Angelo, I was with him yesterday, he looks at it as motivation, something that he’s going to get towards. I know Karl Towns is most likely going to do his this summer I would think, but it’s a blessing for sure.”

DLo, as Scotto points out, was quick to congratulate his friend.

There’s no indication that the Nets and Russell have spoken about an extension this summer. DLo is eligible, but with him missing 34 games to injury, it’s not in either Russell’s or the Nets best interest right now.

Of course, Booker has had a more productive career so far. Last season, he averaged 24.9 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game as well as a career-high 38 percent from 3-point range.

Russell was on his way to a career year as well last season, averaging 20.9, 5.7 and 4.7 when he went down in November. If he hadn’t been hurt and continued at that pace, we might be looking at Booker and Russell inking big (if not identical) deals. Instead, Russell will be on the last year of his rookie contract, making a little more than $7 million.

The Nets are very happy with Russell, particularly with his training regimen. Chris Brickley, his trainer, posted video of him Tuesday working out at HSS Training Center … at night.

Most days, in fact, he’s at HSS before 9 a.m., often times with draft pick Dzanan Musa, who he’s taken under his wing.

“D’Angelo was starting to come into his own last season before he had that knee injury and then that sort of took him off the rails a little bit,” Sean Marks told WFAN last month. “But he’s back recovering, he’s working really hard. I can attest to that because I see him in the gym every day. Like our guys, we want them to have a chip on their shoulder, and I think D’Angelo has that. He wants to be good.”

As Booker told Scotto…

“I think he’s more focused than ever right now. Like I said earlier, everybody has…comes at different times and different opportunities. He’s in a whole new situation in Brooklyn, and I think he looked at that as a fresh start and he’s been working hard this summer. I know he’s been in New York grinding with the team and I’ve been in Los Angeles. Every time we talk on the phone it’s like, ‘I’m working’ and he’s saying the same thing. He’s locked in and ready to go.”

Much of the bad vibes around DLo following his exit from L.A. have dissipated, except in remote corners of the Internet. Interestingly, he credits one of his teammates with helping him mature. Joe Harris.

“I watched him this year just be a professional, a complete professional on and off the court. He kind of gave me that blueprint on how to be a professional just from watching and observing,” Russell told Tom Dowd of the Nets official website.

The question now is more consistency than maturity.

“Nobody in this room or in this arena questions his talent,” DeMarre Carroll said after the season. “You just want him to do it consistently, and you want him to be that big-time player. D’Angelo is probably the closest thing we would have to an All-Star on our team if he did it consistently.”

Marks said something similar in his WFAN interview.

“I can’t question his basketball skills and IQ because they’re at a different level. He makes people better. He makes people better that he plays with, so that’s an important asset to have, and now it’s about D’Angelo staying healthy, getting him back, getting him right and ready to go for the season.”

Russell, of course, has his own motivation, getting the Nets into the playoffs and proving his detractors wrong. He thinks he has the right prescription, as he told Dowd.

“Training, man,” said Russell. “Like I said, it’s grind time for me. I don’t really have any big things, just trying to be in the gym.”

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