Report: Lakers will try to sign D’Angelo Russell to big one-year deal to make him easier to trade

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly may have a plan to re-sign D’Angelo Russell, but not because they want him to play all of the 2024-25 NBA season for them. Instead, they believe it will be easier to trade him if he has a new deal, either at the 2025 deadline or perhaps even as early as this coming offseason.

“Now, the Lakers, I’m told, are going to try harder to make sure he takes a one-year deal that would be easier to move at the deadline, if not this summer, but are somewhat wary of his market given how he played in the regular season,” wrote Anthony Irwin. “Reports have already linked him to the Orlando Magic given their dearth of scoring from their guard positions.

“Russell had a good regular season but once again sputtered in the playoffs, a trend that has followed him everywhere he’s played. 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 Lakers understand the limitations that come with a backcourt pairing of Russell and Austin Reaves, especially on the defensive side, and will likely try to sign-and-trade Russell. But if they don’t find an offer they like this summer, they’re open to running it back with the intent to upgrade at the deadline, hopefully with Russell on a large expiring contract.”

As has been his history, Russell followed up a fairly successful regular season with a somewhat disappointing showing in the playoffs. In 76 appearances (69 games started) during the regular season, he averaged 18.0 points and 6.3 assists per game. In a five-game, first-round series loss to the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets, his averages fell to 14.2 points and 4.2 assists per contest.

The 28-year-old holds a player option on his contract for the 2024-25 NBA season that is worth $18.6 million. He could choose to become a free agent to be able to sign with any other NBA team. The Lakers obviously would not want to lose him for nothing, which is why the idea of a new contract perhaps then followed by a trade is part of their decision-making process.

In addition to the Magic, the Cleveland Cavaliers may be a possible partner if they have to deal All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell this offseason. A recent report said the Lakers would be at the “front of the line” if the Cavs made the 27-year-old available. He would be a fine solution to Lakers’ quest for a third star to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Since their season came to a disappointing end, the Lakers have already fired head coach Darvin Ham, who reportedly may have had a strained relationship with Russell. Their new head coach undoubtedly would want to weigh in on any future plans for Russell in particular and the full roster in general.

That planning also must consider the future of James, who also holds a player option for next season and could become a free agent if he so chooses. However, the 39-year-old may be more likely to re-sign with a three-year max contract that includes a final year option.

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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.