Report: Odds of Lakers keeping D’Angelo Russell have increased due to recent play

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The odds of the Los Angeles Lakers keeping D’Angelo Russell rather than trading him reportedly have increased after a stretch of improved play by the 27-year-old.

With the NBA trade deadline approaching early next month, there has been some thought that the Lakers were getting ready to move on from Russell. However, since being reinserted into the starting lineup, he has performed very well.

In five games as a starter since Jan. 13, Russell has three games of at least 29 points, including a season-high of 39 points. In the five recent starts, he is averaging 27.2 points per game while shooting 55.9 percent from the field and 53.7 percent from 3-point range.

He is coming of a 34-point performance on Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers that helped the Lakers to their third win in the past four games. That has them back at the .500 mark with a 22-22 record heading into their game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

LeBron James recently showed Russell some love on social media after his younger teammate expressed how much fun he has been having playing the game recently. It is quite a turn of events after Russell was taken out of the starting lineup by Darvin Ham after the head coach reportedly discussed the move with James and Anthony Davis.

In addition, as recently as this past week, Russell has been mentioned as part of trade rumors that link the Lakers to Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray.

It may be working out for the Lakers no matter which direction they decide to take regarding Russell, who was re-signed as a free agent this past offseason.

If he continues to play well, it could increase his value on the trade market if the Lakers do decide to deal him. Looking at it another way, if he continues to contribute as he has been lately, he could become a vital player for the Lakers as the season moves forward and they attempt to get back to the playoffs.

Either way, his role for the rest of this season — either with the Lakers or elsewhere — will be determined in some manner by the time the trade deadline passes.

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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.