While the Los Angeles Lakers may not be interested in re-signing D’Angelo Russell this summer, there is a belief the organization hopes there are other teams interested enough to consider a sign-and-trade for the eight-year veteran.
The Los Angeles Lakers were able to break out of their season-long struggle with a slew of moves at the February NBA trade deadline. In those various deals, many of the talents they received in return ended up being notable impact players in their late-season resurgence and surprise run to the 2023 Western Conference Finals.
One player in particular who proved to be a notable addition for the stretch run was Minnesota Timberwolves veteran D’Angelo Russell. Russell was making a return to the team that drafted him as a 19-year-old in 2015, and following the trade — over the first two rounds of the playoffs — it seemed like Russell had proven worth the Los Angeles Lakers making a strong effort to bring him back in NBA free agency.
That all changed in the Western Conference Finals. Russell had such a poor showing in the team’s four-game sweep against the Denver Nuggets that he ended up losing his starting role in Game 4. It has reportedly shifted the team’s thinking to where they are unlikely to push to bring him back despite a clear need for an impact player at point guard.
Los Angeles Lakers record (’22-’23): 43-39
Since the season came to a close, the Los Angeles Lakers have now been linked to pursuits of Kyrie Irving and Fred VanVleet in NBA free agency this summer. And it seems that D’Angelo Russell could end up being key in landing his replacement.
On Wednesday, in responding to a reader inquiry, The Athletic NBA reporter Jovan Buha revealed the likely strategy for Russell this summer.
“My read on the situation is that the Lakers would prefer to use D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade, but I’m not sure the market is there. Landing Kyrie Irving for Russell is shaping up to be a pipe dream, especially with Dallas unlikely to help Los Angeles out. Fred VanVleet, a Klutch client, looms as a possibility, but adding him would require Toronto to agree to terms with Russell.”– Jovan Buha
VanVleet would be a phenomenal replacement for the Los Angeles Lakers, and getting a return of Russell instead of losing him in free agency is something the Toronto Raptors would have to consider if they want to return to the playoffs in 2024.