The Lakers acquired Russell at the trade deadline in February and he was one of the more impactful pickups for LA. Russell was a key part of the Lakers’ playoff push, averaging 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per game while shooting 48.4 percent overall and 41.4 percent from deep in 17 regular season games.
Once the postseason hit, it was a different story for Russell. He was decent in the Lakers’ first two series against the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors but his production fell off a cliff against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. Russell averaged just 6.3 points on 32 percent shooting from the field with 3.5 assists.
Russell — who is an unrestricted free agent — once seemed like a lock to return to the Lakers but his disappointing postseason has put that in question. If the Lakers do decide to bring him back, it won’t be on a max contract, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
“Russell is eligible to sign a two-year, $67.5 million extension by June 30, which the Lakers will not pursue at the max number, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN,” McMenamin wrote.
D’Angelo Russell Did Not Agree With Being Benched
The Lakers sent Russell to the bench for Game 4 against the Nuggets as they tried to avoid a sweep. He played a playoff-low 15 minutes in the matchup. The Lakers had concerns that removing Russell from the starting lineup would have implications beyond the series.
Russell was clearly not a fan of the move but did his best to not be a distraction.
“It was tough to agree with it, obviously,” Russell said of the benching. “But in the short period of time, [it was important] to not become a distraction to your teammates and to everybody else that’s preparing just like you to get the one goal done, which is win. I knew that was where you have to be professional.”
McMenamin predicts that it could end up being a tough offseason market for Russell in free agency.
“The market could be flat for the 27-year-old Russell, as the teams with that type of cap space this summer — Houston, San Antonio, Utah, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Detroit and Indiana — are either still in rebuild mode or already filled at the position,” McMenamin siad.
LeBron James Lost Faith in D’Angelo Russell
The Lakers’ offseason hinges on whether or not James decides to return. He’s been contemplating retirement, although the expectation is that he’ll return after shaking off the stink of the sweep against the Nuggets.
Some insiders have pointed out that James putting the retirement rumor out there could be about gaining leverage against the Lakers’ front office to potentially make a move for Kyrie Irving. The eight-time All-Star would enter as the replacement for Russell, who didn’t impress James, per a Western Conference executive who spoke with Heavy’s Sean Deveney.
“I hate to say one playoff series can change a franchise’s whole outlook on a guy because that just does not happen, but it is happening with some of the people in that building, maybe most significantly, with LeBron,” the executive told Deveney. “Is this a guy they want to invest in? Does LeBron want him back — there is talk that he is not Russell’s biggest fan?
“But they gave up that pick (2027 first-rounder) to get him and I can tell you, that was like pulling teeth for some of them in that building. They gave up the pick, they are not letting him walk away.”