The biggest personnel question for the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason is whether or not point guard D’Angelo Russell will return, if not whether LeBron James can actually retire.
He was probably the player they traded for midseason, and in 17 regular-season games with them, he performed well, averaging 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per game while shooting 48.4 percent overall and 41.4 percent from 3-point range.
But he was inconsistent during the playoffs and was particularly bad in the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets. It got to the point where head coach Darwin Hamm came off the bench in Game 4.
Unless the Chargers intend to go after a big name at point guard outright, they will want to keep Russell, who will be a free agent this summer, under a new contract. But you won’t pay top dollar for it.
“Russell is eligible to sign a two-year, $67.5 million extension on June 30, which the Chargers will not pursue in large numbers, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.”
But one thing that could help the Lakers is the fact that there may not be a big market for him elsewhere.
“And the market may be flat for the 27-year-old Russell, because teams with such cap space this summer — Houston, San Antonio, Utah, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Detroit and Indiana — are either still rebuilding, or the position is already filled.”
Without a major issue for someone like Kyrie Irving, LA will certainly need Russell’s ball handling, conditioning and scoring skills to ease James’ workload, especially during the regular season.
The Lakers saw Russell as a ‘positive presence’
Even when he isn’t playing well, Russell seems to play with a positive attitude as he cheers on his teammates from the bench. He is said to have led the team to see it in a positive light.
Via Yahoo Sports:
“Then there’s the matter of Russell, who wanted a new contract worth more than $100 million during his time with the Timberwolves,” the sources told Fisher. “After inconsistent postseason competition, it’s hard to imagine many bidders for Russell at that price point. This could certainly benefit the Lakers if they intend to keep him. Most notably, Los Angeles sent Russell Westbrook back from a three-team trade in February in addition to his expiring salary and a first-round pick and a net [Malik] Beasley et al [Jarred] Vanderbilt Russell, however, does not bring the defensive strength favored by head coach Darwin Hamm. And the Lakers would be wise to explore sign-and-trade scenarios that could bring back a player who fits this roster.
But Russell was also viewed as a positive presence around the Lakers, sources said. While his time watching from the bench was increasing, he was lighting up his team’s 3-point celebration as his teammates connected from deep. Perhaps a short-term deal could provide Russell with the average annual value he’s looking for. A two-year deal worth around $40 million could give Russell the resources and leave the Lakers with a flexible contract if they want that kind of flexibility.
In the year It remains to be seen whether Russell has a sincere desire to stay with the Lakers, the team that drafted him first with the 2nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
Story first appeared on LeBron Wire