The qualifying offer is a standing offer for a one-year guaranteed deal, which becomes a regular contract if the player decides to sign it.
In the interim, Russell becomes a restricted free agent. According to NBA rules, a restricted free agent is eligible to sign an offer sheet with any team, but the player’s original team can retain their services by matching the terms of that offer.
While restricted, Russell will occupy a $21-million cap hold in the Nets’ salary cap. Should a situation arise in which the Nets need room for additional cap space, they would be able to withdraw the qualifying offer and renounce their right to Russell — as long as he has not agreed to the qualifying offer before then.
If the Nets were to withdraw the qualifying offer, Russell would become an unrestricted free-agent.
Russell, 23, is coming off a career-best season in which he earned his first All-Star nod, and was a finalist for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.
In 81 games for the Nets this year, Russell averaged 21.1 points per game, 3.9 rebounds and seven assists.