Report: D’Angelo Russell was viewed as a ‘positive presence’ around the Lakers this season

Brad Sullivan
4 Min Read

Despite a disappointing performance in the Western Conference Finals, D’Angelo Russell reportedly left a good impression on the Los Angeles Lakers this season with his character.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports broke down what could be next for the point guard.

“Then there’s the matter of Russell, who was seeking a new deal worth upward of $100 million over four years when he was with the Timberwolves, sources said,” wrote Fischer. “After an inconsistent postseason, it’s hard to imagine many bidders for Russell at that price point. That could certainly benefit the Lakers if they intend to retain him. He was the headliner, after all, of Los Angeles’ return from February’s three-team swap that sent out a first-round pick in addition to Russell Westbrook’s expiring salary, and also netted [Malik] Beasley and [Jarred] Vanderbilt. Russell, though, does not bring the defensive tenacity preferred by head coach Darvin Ham. And the Lakers may be wise in exploring sign-and-trade scenarios that could bring back a player that fits more cohesively with this roster.

“But Russell was also viewed as a positive presence around the Lakers, sources said. Even as his time watching from the bench increased, he was still flashing the team’s 3-point celebration when teammates connected from deep. Perhaps a short-term agreement can get Russell closer to the average annual value he was said to be seeking. A two-year deal worth roughly $40 million could give Russell his riches and also leave the Lakers with a movable contract should they desire that type of flexibility.”

Before Russell debuted for the Lakers in February, the team was 25-31 on the season. L.A.’s struggles to build any momentum sparked questions about its ability to even reach the postseason.

However, Russell helped provide a spark by averaging 17.4 points, 6.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game across 17 regular season games for L.A.

The Lakers ended the regular season with a 43-39 record and emerged from their lone play-in contest with a 108-102 overtime win. Even though Russell contributed only two points in the play-in clash, he did dish out a team-high eight assists.

Russell followed that effort with solid play in the Lakers’ first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Scoring in double figures in five of the six contests, Russell saved the best for last with a 31-point performance in the Game 6 clincher on April 28.

The one-time All-Star remained serviceable in L.A.’s second-round series against the Golden State Warriors, again scoring in double figures in five of the six games played. In Game 3, Russell had his best scoring effort of that round by pouring in 21 points.

However, Russell’s run hit a wall when the Lakers were swept by the Denver Nuggets in four contests. In that group of games, Russell managed a total of just 25 points, 14 assists, eight rebounds and two steals.

One indication of just how much he struggled against the Nuggets came on Monday night, when he was benched to start the game and played less than 15 minutes, scoring just four points along the way.

Russell actually began his career with the Lakers in 2015, when he was the second overall player picked in that year’s draft. After spending two seasons with the team, his first stint with the organization came to an end.

Whether or not Russell remains with the Lakers beyond this season could depend on how much other teams are willing to offer him. It’s certainly possible that he’ll be back with L.A. next season.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.