After the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals on May 6, D’Angelo Russell spoke with Sam Amick of The Athletic for an exclusive interview.
During his conversation with Amick, Russell talked about his future with the Lakers.
Amick: I know it’s down the road, but how do you see free agency? I assume you want to stay here?
Russell: I would love to stay here, but I would have loved to be in Minnesota too. So wherever my feet are, that’s where I’m gonna be.
Amick: Well to me, as I’m watching this game tonight, I’m thinking there’s a pretty good role for you here.
Russell: They’ve got a decision to make, don’t they? So we’ll see.
According to ESPN front-office insider Bobby Marks, Russell is eligible through June 30 to sign a two-year, $67.5 million extension with the Lakers. If an extension isn’t reached between Russell and the Lakers, the All-Star guard will hit unrestricted free agency.
Los Angeles acquired Russell from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the February trade deadline. The Ohio State product averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 assists while shooting 48.4% from the field, 41.4% from beyond the arc and 73.5% from the free-throw line after the trade.
Russell will have made over $138 million in his career once this offseason starts. He’s played for the Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors and Timberwolves, compiling career averages of 17.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
NBA Analyst Believes D’Angelo Russell Will Re-Sign With the Lakers
“Russell has been a welcome fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the viable floor spacer Russell Westbrook couldn’t be for the team. L.A. may not offer as much as he’s currently earning ($31.4 million in the final year of his deal), but Russell could earn a similar deal to Jalen Brunson’s $26 million-per-year contract,” Pincus wrote on May 3. “The Lakers will have to mind the rest of their roster to avoid significant tax penalties with the new rules, but that shouldn’t get in the way of bringing back the 27-year-old guard. Russell could look for more elsewhere but may find the market is sparse. Most of the teams that could use him can’t afford him. The teams with money that may need a point guard include the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz. Houston may prefer Kevin Porter Jr. over Russell, assuming James Harden doesn’t join the franchise. The Magic, who have several young guards like Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony, may not target Russell. A return to Los Angeles seems inevitable.”
In nine games in the 2023 playoffs thus far, Russell is averaging 16.7 points and 6.0 assists while shooting 45.7% from the floor and 37.3% from 3.
D’Angelo Russell Felt Held Back by the Timberwolves
Russell told Amick that he felt “held back” by the Timberwolves. Even though the 27-year-old had a close relationship with Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell had a feeling he would get traded by Minnesota.
Amick: So after that situation in Minnesota, where it seemed like you knew you’d be on the move and it wasn’t a long-term path, how much are you enjoying this?
Russell: How much am I enjoying this? I felt like I was held back there, honestly. I just kind of had to be the third option. Some nights, I was a little more aggressive and was kind of being held back. So to be in a position now where I can kind of thrive and be aggressive and it gets guys going, and where the team reflects off of anybody with that type of energy, it’s fun.
Amick: You knew you might be on the move at that time, right?
Russell: I felt they couldn’t pay me, so I kind of expected it. I felt like I was gonna outplay my (Timberwolves) offer, whatever they wanted to offer me, and then I’d be in a position where I’d have to make a decision. And I just kind of held my cards tight and let the basketball Gods take over.
Amick: Did you actually ask out in Minnesota?
Russell: No, I never asked out. Never. I just felt that (I wanted out) in my gut. I never spoke on it. I never showed that; I just felt it. That’s all.
The Timberwolves lost to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs in five games. Meanwhile, Russell and the Lakers are two wins away from reaching the Western Conference Finals.