D'Angelo Russell left the Los Angeles Lakers under pretty contentious circumstances. But it appears both sides are keenly interested in a reunion as the 23-year-old point guard hits restricted free agency this summer.
If the Brooklyn Nets sign Kyrie Irving in free agency, Russell will be the odd man out. And he has reportedly indicated an interest in returning to the Lakers. Meanwhile, the Lakers are interested in meeting with Russell face-to-face at the start of free agency.
The Lakers shipped Russell and Timofey Mozgov’s awful contract to the Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Lakers selected Kyle Kuzma with that pick. Russell had clashed with a few teammates on the Lakers, and trading him opened a spot to draft Lonzo Ball with the second pick in the 2017 draft. It made tons of sense and helped them get out from under Mozgov’s terrible deal.
Fast forward two seasons and now Russell is hitting restricted free agency. Ball is gone, as are any players who might be unhappy to see Russell return. Oh, and Magic Johnson — the man who pushed to trade him away — is also gone.
The Lakers are desperate for backcourt help, and Russell is coming off the best season of his four-year career. During the 2018-19 campaign, he posted career-highs in points (21.1), assists (7.0), rebounds (3.9) and minutes (30.2) per game, while shooting a career-best 36.9 percent from 3-point range. His PER of 19.48 was also a career high.
The Lakers need some backcourt firepower and Russell is still a young pup at just 23. Signing him would help re-inject some of the youth they lost by trading most of their young core in the Anthony Davis deal.
It’s also worth noting that running with Davis, LeBron James and Kuzma would fit Russell’s style really well. And it would give him instant credibility league-wide and increase his visibility as far as endorsements go.
It seems like a really good fit if the Lakers can find the money and Russell is really up for a reunion.