Even after an extremely active NBA trade deadline that saw Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka swap out six of the team’s 14 players for six new ones, the team may still not be done with business yet. According to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski — during a series of media appearances over the last 24 hours — the team may be interested in extending new (re)acquisition D’Angelo Russell, and potentially bringing back another former Laker: Danny Green.
As far as Russell is concerned, Woj said on the latest episode of his eponymous podcast, “The Woj Pod,” that he believes the team wants to keep Russell beyond this season, and may even broach an extension with him (emphasis mine):
“I think for the Lakers, they’ve used that pick now. They’ve moved off of Russell Westbrook and now D’Angelo Russell is a player I think they do have interest in talking about a contract extension with. Whether it’s during the season or after the season when he’s a free agent and can do a new deal.”
Now, it’s important to note that Woj said “I think,” which isn’t directly reporting. But considering how well plugged-in he is around the league — and that, logically, the Lakers giving up a first-round pick for Russell wouldn’t make sense if they had no interest in keeping him beyond this year — I think we can safely assume they’d like to keep him in Los Angeles longer term. And I’m not a collective bargaining agreement expert, but as far as I can tell from my read of Larry Coon’s invaluable CBA FAQ, there is nothing to legally stop the team and Russell from agreeing to one and signing it. It’s just a matter of whether or not they will.
Does Russell want that? Can both sides agree on a price? Russell and the Timberwolves couldn’t, and he may want to test free agency. Maybe the Lakers won’t want to commit either, and would rather leave potential cap space open this summer if this reunion doesn’t work out. Still, it does make sense that the two sides would at least discuss such an extension, both now and as the offseason approaches.
Russell didn’t talk about an extension during the first media availability of his return, but here is some of what he said at practice on Friday about his fit with this version of the team and his memories of his first stint:
D’Angelo Russell on his first stint with the Lakers: “When I reflect on my time in the past, it’s all Kobe. … Appreciating Kobe when I was here wasn’t really something I did because I was young and figuring it out. But as soon as I left, I appreciated him more.” pic.twitter.com/bhWpnwapsG— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) February 10, 2023
D’Angelo Russell on playing with LeBron and AD, says he’s excited to see what it’s like playing with guys who draw that gravity.— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) February 10, 2023
Adds of his own game after six years away from the Lakers: “I’m a grown man now; I’m not a child. I’m just excited to showcase it.” pic.twitter.com/bBkzpHff9S
And speaking of reacquiring former Lakers and giving them a new contract, Woj reported on Friday during an appearance on ESPN’s “NBA Today” that “Los Angeles” has an interest in bringing in Danny Green. He did not specify which of the two professional basketball teams in Los Angeles he meant — maybe both! — but he did say that Green is hoping the Houston Rockets will cut him (and thus give him all his money) so that he can be a buyout free agent after being sent there by the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade yesterday.
“Los Angeles” won’t be the only city to have interest in Green, however:
“John Wall, the Rockets have said they’re going to waive him, and that allows him to go out on the buyout market and become a free agent, but Danny Green is the interesting player in Houston. I’m told that he would like to be waived just like John Wall is being waived, and not have to do a buyout... teams like Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, they have great interest in him.”
Green wanting all the money he’s owed isn’t surprising for a multimillionaire celebrity who constantly jokes on his own podcast about how frugal he is, so it remains to be seen if he’ll even hit the buyout market. If he does, however, our own Jacob Rude wrote this morning about why the Lakers should have interest in the veteran sharpshooter and former Lakers champion in his roundup of buyout candidates the team can use their open roster spot on:
I mean, the Lakers love bringing back former players and they haven’t really replaced Green since he left. He’s still recovering from a torn ACL and has only played three games so far which probably led to the Grizzlies trading him. It’s not certain yet that he’ll be bought out by Houston, but it’s hard to imagine him sticking around.
If he’s bought out, he’d make a ton of sense for the Lakers. Fans are familiar with his game and his credentials and while there’s rust to shake off, he’s a valuable piece if he can get right.
Would you want Green brought back? Do you think extending DLo is a good idea? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.