ESPN’s Brian Windhorst revealed that NBA teams “aren’t excited” about potentially dealing for Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell ahead of this season’s trade deadline.
Windhorst also shared which assets the Lakers have that are attractive to other teams in the league.
"You have a team that's under achieving beyond LeBron and AD, and after that – it's hard to trade pieces that are under achieving."@WindhorstESPN on the potential #Lakers trade assets | @EvCoRadio @ChrisCanty99 @msmallmon via #USL on @ESPNRadio | @ESPNLosAngeles pic.twitter.com/XxCnytrBTY
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“The Lakers have two assets that are attractive,” Windhorst said. “One is the first-round pick in 2029 that they can trade. And, by the way, I don’t just say the pick – it’s negotiable. Obviously teams are going to want that unprotected or very lightly protected.
“The other thing is Austin Reaves. And it’s not that Austin Reaves is an All-Star player. It’s just that his output versus his contract, which was artificially depressed last summer, it’s a long story. We’ll just leave it at that. Those are the two pieces that people want from the Lakers.”
Windhorst believes that if the Lakers are willing to move one of those pieces, they may be able to acquire an impact player, even though he acknowledged that the “star power” in this season’s trade market isn’t great.
As for Russell, Windhorst doesn’t believe teams across the NBA are nearly as interested. Russell signed a two-year deal with the Lakers last offseason, with the second season being a player option.
Russell could opt out and choose free agency, or he could opt in and remain with the Lakers – or any team he is dealt to this season.
“The Lakers have shown a willingness to trade that first-round pick, but they still haven’t been able to close a deal because there is not a lot of excitement about D’Angelo Russell,” Windhorst said. “That would be the guy in the deal. He’s got an option in his contract for $18 million next year, and teams aren’t excited about him.”
So far this season, Russell is averaging 17.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc.
While the one-time All-Star may not be considered an elite point guard, he’s really played well for Los Angeles since returning to the starting lineup. He is averaging 25.2 points per game over his last 10 contests.
It’s possible that the uncertainty with Russell’s deal next season could be dissuading teams from dealing for him.
For a team that simply wants to clear cap space, Russell could cause an issue if he opts into his deal for the 2024-25 season. For a team looking for a long-term asset or player that it could move in the offseason, Russell is also a concern.
If he opts out of his deal, Russell would become an unrestricted free agent this coming offseason, essentially making him a rental this season.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Lakers can find a taker for Russell while also upgrading their roster.