Lakers ‘Bullish’ on $36 Million Signing, Reporter Says

Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Head coach Darvin Ham of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Trade rumors began swirling around Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell from the moment he signed his two-year, $36 million contract to return this offseason.

New insight from NBA reporter Mark Medina will only further that speculation.

“Maybe the Lakers can find an attractive offer leading into the trade deadline for D’Angelo Russell, especially if he doesn’t play consistently,” Medina said, per Kerrie Jacobs-Bryant of GiveMeSport on September 7. “But the Lakers are bullish he can mitigate last season’s shooting woes and still remain an important reason for the team’s offensive efficiency.”

Russell made 17 appearances – all starts – for the Lakers who re-acquired him from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the trade deadline in February. He averaged 17.4 points on 61% true shooting, knocking down 41.4% of his threes.

His play tailed off in the postseason, however, with the former No. 2 overall pick averaging 13.3 points on 51.6% true shooting while connecting on 31% of his deep looks.

He averaged 9.0 points and shot 17.9% from three over his final seven playoff games.

The Lakers brought Russell back, backing up Medina’s comments about their faith in his ability to bounce back next season. But they also hedged their bet by signing Gabe Vincent from the Miami Heat to a three-year, $33 million contract in free agency, a move some say allows the Lakers to shift Russell to the bench.

Lakers Urged to Bring D’Angelo Russell Off Bench

“This may not be a fun conversation to have between Russell and head coach Darvin Ham,” Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report wrote on September 1. “Moving the 27-year-old to a sixth man role may be the best thing for both him and the franchise.”

Ham has boasted about the depth of this year’s group and how it could allow them to compete for a title next season.

He also knows it won’t work if they don’t come together.

“I think the sky is the limit for what we will be able to do,” Ham said, per Leonard Solms of ESPN on August 14. “I think we added a lot of depth … at the end of the day, it’s a team sport and the team that’s most together — selflessly putting themselves on the line for the greater good of the team — those are usually the teams that come out on top.”

Ham had to coach through various injuries to key players last season, most notably to Anthony Davis and LeBron James, both of whom missed at least 26 games. The good news for Ham and the Lakers is that Russell has bought in.

D’Angelo Russell Could Be Open to Bench Role

Russell spoke with former Lakers guard Patrick Beverley on the “Pat Bev Podcast with Rone” and noted that the Lakers are a deeper team going into this season. Because of that, Russell said, everyone has to buy in for it to be successful

“We got a lot of bodies so trying to give the team what it needs every night to win, I think that’s got to be our focus,” Russell said on August 2. “And whatever or however it gets done, if everybody’s locked into just giving the team what it needs that night … it’s got to be right play, right mentality type of energy for our group.”

Hope springs eternal in the offseason.


Russell’s stance could change if his role does and the results aren’t as advertised. However, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has planned for that with the structure of Russell’s contract.

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Scott Michael
Scott Michael
11 days ago

Get something for D’Angelo and put Austin at the 1. I don’t think everyone is convinced that he can play smart high IQ in real live game. If they have something in the cap that grab for Russel put Reaves right there directing traffic. I would save almost 50% of Austin’s activity in the games he handled the ball anyways. So that’s my 2 cents. Go Lakers Go!