Free agency is less than 48 hours away and the rumors are swirling away for the Lakers. Here’s a look at the latest reports and headlines.
D’Angelo Russell staying in purple and gold?
While Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura are restricted free agents and the Lakers control whether they return, D’Angelo Russell is not. The Lakers won’t be able to match any big offer he might get, but it doesn’t sound like that big offer is coming.
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the signs are increasingly pointing to a D’Lo return.
That could always change based on the Lakers’ track record and how the rest of free agency plays out. But all indications, both publicly and privately, point to the organization planning to re-sign restricted free agents Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura and unrestricted free agent D’Angelo Russell, as The Athletic previously reported.
With so few suitors — both because of his playoff struggles and teams not having cap space — the market isn’t a very strong one for Russell. The result is a market that the Lakers could benefit from, potentially allowing them to add another big weapon in free agency in the process.
Jarred Vanderbilt to return
In the least surprising report heading into the offseason, the Lakers will reportedly bring back Jarred Vanderbilt next season. Technically, his contract was not guaranteed next season so the Lakers will go through the formality of picking up his option to ensure he returns after a strong run in the second half of the season in Los Angeles.
Speaking of expected LAL moves, the Lakers plan to exercise the $4.7 million team option for Jarred Vanderbilt for next season, sources told ESPN. The 24-year-old forward will be eligible for a contract extension extension worth up to 4 years and $71 million starting Sept. 7.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) June 28, 2023
At just $4.7 million, Vanderbilt is on one heck of a bargain of a contract for one more season, which might put pressure on the Lakers to further maximize things this season before he’s due a big pay raise next summer.
LeBron to play bystander in free agency
There’s always a looming sense of what role LeBron James, Rich Paul and Klutch Sports plays in roster moves the Lakers make, particularly in free agency. Even when it’s not Klutch clients, LeBron has a fair amount of sway in decision-making.
Heading into this summer, though, LeBron is taking a back seat...or so he says.
As always, LeBron James hopes the Lakers make win-now moves in free agency. But I’m told LeBron won’t get involved with front office decisions and will be supportive with whatever happens. Dispatch for @Sportsnaut https://t.co/UhNwxa1di6— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) June 27, 2023
There is some degree of “believe it when you see it” when it comes to comments like this. And even if LeBron isn’t inserting himself into the situation, Vice President of Basketball Operations Rob Pelinka has always stated he seeks the advice and input of LeBron and AD when building a roster.
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