The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly are heading toward keeping D’Angelo Russell in the fold with a two-year deal that would be worth an average of $20 million per season.
“The other strong word out of Hollywood is that the Lakers are trending toward bringing back D’Angelo Russell after acquiring him from the [Minnesota] Timberwolves at February’s trade deadline,” wrote Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports. “Early indications are that Russell and the Lakers could come to terms on a two-year, $40 million deal with the second year a team option or non-guaranteed.”
It would be the first step in the Lakers’ attempt to maintain most of the roster that stormed to the 2023 Western Conference Finals. The point guard is just one of many puzzle pieces that includes Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and Dennis Schroder among others.
Russell had a disappointing playoffs which included him being benched in Game 4 against the Denver Nuggets. But after getting swept in the conference finals, the 27-year-old was cited as being a “positive presence” after arriving and helping the Lakers’ late-season rally.
That still did not quiet speculation about his future with the team, with some reports saying the Lakers would prefer to use him in a sign-and-trade and other “corners” of the organization wanting to bring him back.
The latest report would be somewhat of a discount on Russell, who is eligible for a two-year contract extension up to $67.5 million if it is completed before June 30.
With Schroder also seeking a bigger payday from the Lakers that he may not be able to get, Los Angeles could have a glaring hole at point guard if it doesn’t keep Russell, though it reportedly has multiple veterans on its radar.
The Lakers also face the prospect of losing Reaves and Hachimura, two restricted free agents who can get offer sheets that the Lakers have said they are intent on matching. They also reportedly could target former LeBron James teammate Kevin Love.
Russell was drafted by the Lakers in 2015 and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets after two seasons. He was in his fourth season with the Timberwolves when he wound up back with the Lakers following a three-team trade in February. He averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per game in 17 regular season appearances for Los Angeles.
Getting Russell’s name on a new contract early in free agency would clear up one question for the Lakers and allow them to address their many others with a better idea of their financial parameters.