Given how abruptly and messy the separation was, it was hard to imagine that the Lakers are in a space in which offering a long-term contract to D’Angelo Russell appears to be the preferred outcome for all parties involved.
Only a handful of years ago, Russell was shipped out to Brooklyn and kicked on his way out the door. But a new coaching staff, a new front office figurehead and an improved, more mature Russell all equals out to a future between the former No. 2 overall pick and the franchise that drafted him so many years ago.
After hitting the ground running back in purple and gold, both the Lakers and Russell have expressed sentiment in making the partnership between the two more long-term. The latest to report that was Jovan Buha of The Athletic on Michael Scotto’s HoopsHype podcast.
Scotto: Woj touched on it for ESPN. I’ve also heard DLo wants to be that guy for the future for the team that drafted him and kind of fulfill those expectations they had years ago. He’s a different guy now. He’s much older and more mature as a person.
Buha: I think those feelings are mutual. When the Lakers made that deal, part of it was getting off Russ’ contract and getting out of that situation, but they could’ve potentially had Mike Conley in that deal. They looked at D’Angelo Russell as someone who could be their point guard of the future and potentially that lead ball handler and third-star type of guy that could fit around Anthony Davis and LeBron.
From what I’ve been told, the Lakers have very strong interest in re-signing him. I believe it’s mutual on both sides. It’s just going to come down to what type of deal does that look like?
It’ll be interesting to see what type of deal Russell does indeed get. He’s certainly not a max-level player, but is he still at the level of his last deal, which was worth $117 million over four years? That certainly feels closer to his value and what his next contract could look like.
How much wiggle room are the Lakers looking for as well with multiple players hitting free agency this summer? If this team is as interested in running it back as reports suggest they are, it won’t be cheap. Are they going into these negotiations looking for a deal, a hometown discount, or are they willing to dish out the money it will take?
It’s going to be a fascinating offseason for the Lakers, regardless of how their regular season may end. And it’s going to dictate how competitive the Lakers will be in the final years of LeBron James’ time in Los Angeles.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.