The Lakers’ love for bringing back former players and the fanbase’s love of the Baby Lakers might be meeting a crossroads. According to multiple reports, the Lakers have reportedly discussed trades that could bring D’Angelo Russell back to the purple and gold, likely as part of a three-team deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz sending out Russell Westbrook.
Mike Conley would likely be sent to the Timberwolves in the construction that has been getting reported so far, with Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley also leaving Utah and heading to Los Angeles:
Ongoing discussions have included Utah's Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt as part of the potential three-team deal to the Lakers, sources said. Sides are working through pick protections and additional draft compensation too, per sources. https://t.co/DoI0EBOBVq— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 8, 2023
LAL, UTA, MIN have indeed been discussing a three-team trade that would send D'Angelo Russell to Los Angeles, Mike Conley Jr. to Minnesota and Russell Westbrook to Utah. Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt have also been included in the versions of the framework, sources said. https://t.co/uHXQYciEWY— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) February 8, 2023
According to both Woj and Shams, there is “momentum” towards a deal, but the Wolves are still asking for more draft pick compensation:
“For the Lakers this would be turning the page on Russell Westbrook … there’s definitely a deal here that has a level of momentum.”— The Rally (@TheRally) February 8, 2023
NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports on the potential three-team trade between the Lakers, Jazz and Timberwolves. pic.twitter.com/lRc8IqxcN2
If the deal goes through in its current form, then a buyout is expected to happen between Westbrook and the Jazz, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.
As it stands, according to Woj, the Lakers and Jazz have agreed to their parts of the deal while Minnesota is also still gauging offers for D’Lo elsewhere.
ESPN Sources: Three-team trade is largely hinging on how Minnesota values D’Angelo Russell in potential deal and their return of draft assets. Lakers and Jazz have significant deal structure in place, but Minnesota has been engaged elsewhere on Russell too.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 8, 2023
Russell, obviously, spent his first two seasons in Los Angeles before being traded to Brooklyn to clear cap space that would, down the line, eventually be used to sign LeBron James. Since leaving LA, he’s flourished into a great player, one that even made the All-Star Game in 2018-19. The Lakers even tried to bring him back in 2019!
Like Westbrook, Russell is an expiring contract that would allow the Lakers to both improve in the short term and maintain flexibility heading into the offseason. Russell is making $31.3 million this year, far below Westbrook’s figure which explains the need for multiple other players to be included.
This season, Russell is averaging 17.9 points and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 39.1% from the 3-point line. Only Max Christie and Thomas Bryant have higher 3-point percentages on the Lakers this season, and are doing so on much lower volume than Russell’s seven attempts per game across 54 games so far.
D’Lo’s fit would also be a massive improvement compared to Westbrook’s. As a shooter and floor-spacer, lineups alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis would not be nearly as clunky or hard to fit. And, at this point, getting Westbrook off the team might give the Lakers an intangible boost in itself, let alone bringing in a player that fits much better offensively.
And, most importantly, it would just be incredibly fun to have D’Lo back in purple and gold. We will keep this story updated as more details continue to trickle out.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude. For all the latest heading into the NBA trade deadline, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers trade rumors tracker.