Report: Lakers tried to trade D’Angelo Russell at trade deadline

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers might have had a very different look — and come out with a very different outcome — in the 2024 NBA Playoffs had they been able to trade D’Angelo Russell as they reportedly tried to do prior to the deadline in early February.

“Russell had a good regular season but once again sputtered in the playoffs, a trend that has followed him everywhere he’s played,” wrote Anthony Irwin. “Sources say the Lakers tried to trade him at the deadline, but no team wanted to acquire him because of the leverage he’d have heading into the summer with that player option.”

The 28-year-old does hold a player option in his contract for the 2024-25 NBA season reportedly worth $18.7 million, and he would become a free agent if he were to decline it. That means that if he had been traded, the team he landed with may have only had him for a very short time before then losing him.

The Lakers now could lose Russell if he decides to walk away from the team and sign elsewhere this offseason. He has reportedly been linked to the Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs as possible landing spots.

Los Angeles has already fired head coach Darvin Ham, whose relationship with Russell reportedly was strained at times. It is unknown if the new head coach — whoever that might be — will see the guard as part of his plans for the 2024-25 NBA season and perhaps beyond.

In the end, the Lakers ultimately might not mind if Russell does move on and they can use that money and playing time for others. He did average 18.0 points and 6.3 assists per game while making 76 appearances and starting 69 games during the 2023-24 regular season. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, he also had some stretches of excellent play during the second season of his second stint with Los Angeles.

However, his performance in the playoffs left a lot to be desired and made him a target as a reason for the Lakers’ failings in a first-round elimination by the Denver Nuggets. In the five-game series against the defending NBA champions, Russell averages fell to just 14.2 points and 4.2 assists per contest.

Last season, he averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per game after joining the Lakers during the 2022-23 campaign. But even though they made it all the way to the 2023 Western Conference Finals — where they were swept by the Nuggets — Russell averaged just 13.3 points and 4.6 assists per game in those 16 playoff appearances.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.