The D’Angelo Russell experience with the Lakers this year had some big peaks and valleys. During the regular season and in spurts during the postseason, Russell was an integral part of this Lakers team. But in the biggest games of the season against the Nuggets, he was a non-factor.
That sour taste still lingers as the Lakers begin to head into the summer and offseason and, as a result, Russell’s future with the franchise is certainly up in the air. The Lakers are on the precipice of being a title contender again after a Western Conference Finals berth this season and Russell could be seen more as a player that could help the team upgrade more than the piece that can elevate them himself.
In a recent mailbag piece, Jovan Buha of The Athletic mentioned that the Lakers would actually prefer to use D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade if they are capable. His mention of one specific name also feels noteworthy as well.
My read on the situation is that the Lakers would prefer to use D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade, but I’m not sure the market is there.
Landing Kyrie Irving for Russell is shaping up to be a pipe dream, especially with Dallas unlikely to help Los Angeles out. Fred VanVleet, a Klutch client, looms as a possibility, but adding him would require Toronto to agree to terms with Russell (or take on the Beasley and Bamba contracts).
The Kyrie Irving pursuit seems, at least for now, one that has largely failed to launch this offseason regardless of how some may perceive LeBron James’ retirement comments. But Fred VanVleet is a name that has popped up previously.
At the trade deadline before the Lakers overhauled their team, VanVleet was a name linked to the Lakers. Toronto opted to stick with mediocrity and finished with a one-and-done appearance in the play-in game while the Lakers revamped the roster and made their playoff run.
VanVleet has a player option for next season, which would factor into any trade possibilities. A double sign-and-trade is possible, but it would hard cap the Lakers and that’s before even discussing the logistics of making a deal between the two sides work.
Ultimately, what is the biggest takeaway here is that Russell could be made available. The Lakers being open to a sign-and-trade increases the number of teams Russell could negotiate with, potentially, so long as the other team is open to a trade.
It’s another moving piece for the Lakers ahead of a summer with so, so many of them.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.