This offseason was full of positive sentiments for the Los Angeles Lakers. Specifically, it was what general manager Rob Pelinka was able to do with the roster. It built off of their soft re-tooling at the trade deadline last season.
Their season came up short, though. A tough early slate of games and similar results could lead Pelinka to make further changes.
“The Lakers have confidence in Russell now, but who’s to say things won’t go south like they did late last season,” wrote Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report on October 19. “He just isn’t the most natural fit with LeBron James, as Russell does his best work with the ball in his hands and his worst work on the defensive end.”
– Malcolm Brogdon
“As long as Brogdon stays healthy—he played 75 games as a rookie and hasn’t reached the 70-game mark since—he could thrive in Hollywood,” Buckley said. “He can operate on or off the ball while capably defending either backcourt position.”
Brogdon, 30, averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists last season for the Boston Celtics while shooting a career-best 44.4% from beyond the arc. He is in the second year of a two-year, $22.5 million contract extension signed in 2021 while still a member of the Indiana Pacers.
Last season, he came off the bench for all 67 appearances, his most since his rookie season.
Boston traded him to Portland for Jrue Holiday in the aftermath of the Damian Lillard trade to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers were a long-time potential suitor for the Oakland native, Lillard. And they were among the teams that were of interest to Holiday as he sought a trade.
D’Angelo Russell Played Fiesty Defense This Preseason
Russell’s defense has never been a strong suit. But this offseason he has taken a renewed approach, aiming to emulate Celtics guard – and former Brogdon teammate – Derrick White.
White earned All-Defensive Second Team honors last season.
“My inspiration has been Derrick White,” Russell said, via Lakers Fam on October 15. “I want to be Derrick White. He doesn’t get a lot of credit for what does. [He] makes all the winning plays, and that’s that’s what I want to be.”
Russell has also been one of the biggest proponents of the Lakers having to buy into the team over individual success since they are so deep. That will be key with additions to his position in Gabe Vincent and more on-ball responsibilities for Austin Reaves.
Hood-Schifino is the Lakers’ first-round pick.
Although he doesn’t project as much of a factor this season, he did show some signs that he is capable of being a lead guard in the NBA this preseason.
Lakers HC Backs D’Angelo Russell
Buckley notes that Russell went from starting every game after the Lakers re-acquired him at the February trade deadline. But head coach Darvin Ham also pulled him quickly from the decisive Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals versus the Denver Nuggets.
Ham brushed concerns that that would impact Russell’s standing in naming him the starting point guard.
“A lot was made about how things finished against Denver and whatnot. But at the end of the day, we don’t get to where we got to without D’Angelo Russell,” Ham said via the team on September 28. “And I’m going to encourage him to be assertive. He’s a highly, highly intelligent basketball player. One that is coming back with sort of a chip on his shoulder.”
Russell waived his implied no-trade clause when he re-signed with the Lakers on a two-year, $36 million contract this offseason, partially fueling trade speculation. And he will be trade-eligible on December 15.
But both sides are committed to making the experiment work.