Report: NBA sources unsure who would be willing to pay D’Angelo Russell if Magic aren’t

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The future of D’Angelo Russell is one of many things the Los Angeles Lakers have to deal with this coming offseason, but the veteran guard and team reportedly may not have as many options as either thought, especially if the Orlando Magic aren’t truly interested in him.

“The most recent intel suggests the San Antonio Spurs aren’t interested,” wrote Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. “If Russell can’t get a viable offer from the Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors or Utah Jazz, he’s wholly reliant on the Lakers for his payday. It just takes one, but multiple NBA sources question who would be willing to pay Russell if the Magic aren’t.”

The 28-year-old has a player option for the 2024-25 NBA season worth $18.7 million. The simplest path would be for him to exercise that option and play for the Lakers under that contract next season, but that reportedly may be unlikely.

Russell has been linked to the Magic by people around the league for some time. The Lakers also reportedly tried to deal him during the season prior to the NBA trade deadline and now reportedly may be looking to try to sign him to a big one-year deal that would make him easier to trade, either this summer or prior to the 2025 deadline.

The Lakers could find another solution to this possible dilemma in several ways if Russell simply does not opt in. They could see him decline his option and either decide to re-sign him or just let him leave as an unrestricted free agent who would then be able to sign with any team. Also, Los Angeles could work out a sign-and-trade with another team, allowing Russell to get the bigger contract he seeks while the Lakers also would get something in return.

An added component is the fact that the Lakers are searching for a new head coach after firing Darvin Ham in the aftermath of their first-round loss to the Denver Nuggets in the 2024 NBA Playoffs. Whoever that coach may be — sources reportedly say they have “zeroed” in on J.J. Redick — may have strong thoughts about Russell’s fit on the roster one way or the other.

Russell averaged 18.0 points and 6.3 assists per game in 76 appearances during the regular season but once again followed that up with a lesser performance in the playoffs, putting up just 14.2 points and 4.2 assists per game in the five-game series against Denver.

With the Lakers still harboring championship aspirations built around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they may be looking for an upgrade over Russell, which makes his status worth watching.

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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.