In a not-too-dissimilar timeline to the one we’re in, the Lakers would have landed Kyrie Irving ahead of the NBA trade deadline and had a very different path heading into the second half of the season. They certainly did everything they could to acquire him, but were rebuffed by the Nets.
The team’s Plan B wasn’t all that bad, as they brought in fan favorite D’Angelo Russell along with Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt as part of a roster overhaul. Because it was Plan B, though, does not mean it isn’t a plan the Lakers intend as seeing through.
With D’Lo set for unrestricted free agency this summer, there were questions about just how long his return to Los Angeles would last. The Lakers had begun putting out signals that they would be interested in retaining him long-term and, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the feeling is mutual.
Woj appeared on the NBA Countdown show to talk about the Lakers and Russell and revealed the two sides have expressed a desire for the partnership to be long-term.
Prior to appearing on Countdown, Woj was on Get Up! earlier in the morning on ESPN and talked about Russell as well as the Lakers and how they aren’t expected to pursue Kyrie.
“I think it’s more likely than not Kyrie Irving stays in Dallas just because of what they invested in him and his chance to get the kind of contract he wants is going to be with (Dallas)...But I do think they traded for Russell with the idea they’ll go forward with him on a new deal.”
All of this is very encouraging for the Lakers moving forward. For one, the anchor of baggage that comes with Kyrie Irving makes him not worth it, as he’s left every franchise he’s been with worse off.
For another, Russell is also a solid option to build around. He’s a young point guard, familiar with playing in Los Angeles. He complements LeBron James and Anthony Davis well and addresses some of the Lakers’ needs as a shooter, too.
Not that it matters to the Lakers, but he’s also a fan favorite and buys the front office some goodwill if he is extended. All in all, it could still end up being a great outcome, even if it wasn’t the original plan.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.