Despite an awkward breakup with the Lakers as the bait in the Timofey Mozgov trade, D’Angelo Russell and the Los Angeles Lakers’ paths might be crossing once more. Russell offers an enticing option for the cash-strapped Lakers as one of the youngest top tier free agents on the market – meaning his price tag is much lower compared to players like Irving, Leonard, and Butler.
Russell has blossomed as an NBA player since leaving the Lakers and enjoyed a breakout 2018-2019 campaign. Averaging career highs in every major statistical category, D-Lo has grown into a consistent scoring threat night in, night out.
However, with the Nets still interested in the possibility of bringing on both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Russell is the odd man out and could find himself an unrestricted free agent – where the Lakers could swoop in and make an offer as one of the only teams with enough money to offer him a reasonable deal.
Kyle Kuzma Tweets At Rumored Lakers’ Free Agency Target D’Angelo Russell
Russell was quoting Gunna and Baby’s hit song, Drip Too Hard – to which Kuzma chimed in with his stamp of approval. That said, with free agency right around the corner, any and everything around potential free agent targets gets put under a microscope (shout out this post right here).
So what sense do we make of this, is it simply friendly banter between a current Laker and former Laker? Or is it a potential tip as far as what might be going on behind the scenes leading up to free agency?
Most likely, it’s the former. While never teammates, Kuzma and Russell have a shared experience playing in the bright lights of Los Angeles and have a number of mutual friends. It isn’t unrealistic to think the two are at the very least amicable. While it would be nice to imagine this has something to do with Russell coming back to LA, the more likely case is Kuz simply is a fan of the song.
D’Angelo Russell Makes For Interesting Fit on the Lakers
The Lakers are a bare-bones roster as currently constructed and while it is tough to say how anyone will play alongside teammates that don’t exist yet, we can at least get an idea of how a potential free agent like Russell’s game might compliment James or Davis’.
Russell looks to fit the mold of something closest to Kyrie Irving alongside LeBron James. A crafty shot creator and shoot-first point guard, both have excellent court vision but prefer to find a way to put the ball in the net themselves. Alongside LeBron, Russell should see a major uptick in his shooting percentages as he’ll be finding himself on the receiving end of a number of easier looks.
The Lakers also need to factor in their otherworldly big man, Anthony Davis. Davis is far too talented a player to be relegated to a Kevin Love/Chris Bosh “stand behind the arc and give the ball-handlers room to operate” role and the Lakers will need to make sure they’re getting him the ball often enough to take full advantage of the mismatch he presents.
As a clear third man in the pecking order, it would be interesting to see how Russell handles the ball being out of his hands more. His improved play last season was largely due to his ability to create for himself and if forced into a third option/off-ball spacing role, he could lose a lot of what makes him an appealing player to begin with.