“Russell is a touch older than Orlando’s ideal addition,” wrote Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report on August 28. “But his shot-making and creation would take a lot of heat off Banchero, Wagner and Black.”
Russell, 27, is in his second stint with the Lakers who acquired him from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a three-team trade at the deadline in February. He was the Laker’s third-leading scorer after the deadline averaging 17.6 points, 6.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and shot 41.4% from beyond the arc in 17 regular season appearances but his numbers fell in the postseason.
The former No. 2 overall pick of the Lakers, Russell averaged 16.7 points and shot 37.3% from deep over Los Angeles’ first nine playoff games.
He averaged 9.0 points and shot 17.9% over their final seven games.
Lakers Moved Quickly to Retain D’Angelo Russell
Even with that, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka moved quickly to bring Russell back this offseason on a two-year, $36 million contract in free agency as part of another aggressive transaction period for the former agent. Even in that, though, the Lakers left themselves with a potential out if need be.
“It’s also possible the Lakers could wind up needing another point guard,” Buckley wrote in another section of the article. “The stage was seemingly set for a D’Angelo Russell deal when he waived his implied no-trade clause upon re-signing with the team this summer.”
The Lakers and Russell agreed to a deal on July 1, the first official day of free agency.
Since he signed a 1-plus-1 contract (one year with another optional year), Russell would have had veto power on any trade for up to one year, and it is believed he is the first player to do it.
Russell waving the right to veto gives the Lakers’ front office the flexibility to use his $17.3 million salary as trade fodder by itself or with another contract if they so choose. This decision and the Lakers’ move to sign Gabe Vincent to a three-year, $33 million contract in free agency has led to the speculation that Russell may not be long for L.A. again.
D’Angelo Russell is Fully Bought Into Lakers
Despite perceptions that Russell could be the odd man out if the Lakers feel the need to pounce on a trade this coming season, he is fully bought into what it is going to take to achieve their goal of winning a championship.
“We got a lot of bodies so trying to give the team what it needs every night to win, I think that’s got to be our focus,” Russell said on the “Pat Bev Podcast with Rone” on August 2. “And whatever or however it gets done, if everybody’s locked into just giving the team what it needs that night … it’s got to be right play, right mentality type of energy for our group.”
“I think the sky is the limit for what we will be able to do,” head coach Darvin Ham said, per Leonard Solms of ESPN on August 14. “A coach I worked for always used to always say, ‘The most together team will win.’”
Russell echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“Anybody can do it,” Russell said. “He [Ham] could throw any five out there and get it done. But if we’re all committed to that, I think sky’s limited for the group honestly.”
Josh Buckhalter covers the NBA for Heavy.com with a focus on the Bulls and Lakers. He’s based in Villa Park, Illinois. Follow Josh on Twitter/Instagram: @JoshGBuck and reach him via email at [email protected]. More about Josh Buckhalter
More Heavy on Lakers News
Loading more stories