D’Angelo Russell is a former No. 2 overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers, but the two sides had a pretty rough break-up a few years ago. He was dumped off in a very one-sided trade to the Brooklyn Nets, and was the subject of some pretty harsh words by former Lakers president Magic Johnson on the way out.
The legendary Lakers point guard said that the franchise “needed a leader” after the trade. That leader was ostensibly going to be another No. 2 pick point guard, Lonzo Ball, but he is set to be dealt to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade.
That deal, and the craziness of the upcoming free agent period, could lead to a Russell-Lakers reunion, according to a few different reports. It is crazy to think after how the first split went, but it could be a marriage of convenience.
Russell is coming off of a break-out season with the Nets, in which he made his first All-Star Game, and led the team to a shocking playoff berth. He is probably looking at a max deal, or something close to it.
He will be a restricted free agent, but the Nets could have their sights on a bigger name at the position. the team is considered a heavy favorite to sign former Cleveland Cavalier and Boston Celtics superstar Kyrie Irving.
Many believe the Nets will try and pair Irving and Kevin Durant, who is set to hit free agency as he recovers from his torn Achilles suffered during the NBA Finals. If they can’t land Durant, it is unclear if the team would prefer Irving or Russell by themselves, to keep a max slot available, or pair the two in the backcourt.
The Lakers, coming off of that Davis trade, are also a rumored Irving destination. While he forced his way out of Cleveland, where he won an NBA title alongside LeBron James, the two say they’ve repaired their relationship a bit.
The Lakers badly need guards and shooters, two roles Irving would fill. If not him, though, Russell is also an interesting option.
D’Angelo Russell and the Los Angeles Lakers could have some mutual interest, if he hits free agency in a few weeks.
On Friday, Bleacher Report’s Arye Abraham reported that the Lakers have “strong interest” in their former guard, and want a meeting once free agency opens.
A source within the Lakers organization not authorized to speak publicly has confirmed to me that the Lakers have strong interest in free agent guard D’Angelo Russell. I’m told the Lakers FO plan to have a face to face meeting with Russell at the beginning of free agency.
— Arye Abraham (@arye_abraham) June 21, 2019
Meanwhile, B/R’s Eric Pincus says that Russell could be open to the idea as well, especially with Johnson away from the team. The idea of playing with James and Davis has to be appealing for a young point guard.
Russell’s breakup with the Lakers wasn’t pretty, but it’s difficult to hold grudges in this league. With Johnson gone, some close to Russell have indicated he may be open to the idea if Brooklyn isn’t in the picture.
The Celtics and Phoenix Suns are two other options floated for Russell in recent days. I’m sure his preference would be to stay in Brooklyn, either as the team’s leader and All-Star, or alongside Irving. If not, though, he could help transform the Lakers into a true title contender, and pay off the promise of his No. 2 selection a few years ago a second time around.