The trade deadline additions of D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley changed the fortunes of the Los Angeles Lakers this season and sparked them on a run to the Western Conference Finals. Now with free agency set to begin, the future of Russell remains one of the biggest questions heading into the Lakers’ summer.
But regardless of where the unrestricted free agent ultimately winds up, Russell has the opportunity to work on his game this summer. And while he will certainly work out and stay sharp during the offseason, Russell believes at this stage of his career, he is who he is.
“At this point in your career to be honest I feel like you’re you, and I’m nice,” Russell said at his Lakers’ exit interview. “I ain’t worried about my game. I know who I am as a player. I know what I’m capable of. I can win games. I can be better than your point guard, I can be better than your shooting guard, that’s just all what the game’s gonna present that night for me.
“Obviously you can shoot a better percentage at free throws, you can shoot a better percentage at threes and field goals or whatever. My whole thing going into the season was being a better catch-and-shoot guy and before I got here I was very excited with my numbers. I was proud of my numbers at that category and my three-point percentage, all that other stuff. I worked on it. My main thing was being healthy, to play in the postseason and have a run like we did and I came out healthy so I’m excited about that. I wanted to come into the season in shape, I did that.”
And with that being said, Russell is focused on staying in shape and improving his body this offseason, while fine tuning the areas where he thrives.
“So going into this offseason I think the main thing for me is just to stay in shape and continue to better my body,” Russell added. “I don’t think I’ma get better at going right. I’m not gonna be fast enough to break your best defender down in an iso, that’s not my game. Just continue to study what I already have. My spots, where I get shots, where I’m aggressive, just understanding those spots more I think that’s where I get better.”
Russell isn’t wrong in that at some point a player simply is who they are. You will rarely see a player who can’t shoot suddenly become a reliable 3-point shooter 10 years into his career. After eight NBA seasons, Russell’s skillset is well known, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t things he couldn’t tweak or add to his game.
Still only 27 years old, Russell has a lot of years left in the NBA whether with the Lakers or a new team. Getting in great shape and improving his body are important for the longevity of his career as well, but some might not agree with the idea that he couldn’t add to your game at this stage of his career.
Lakers exploring sign-and-trade options on D’Angelo Russell
Another possibility for Russell winding up elsewhere is via a sign-and-trade with the Lakers sending him away to a new team he wants to join and receiving some sort of asset in return. And reportedly, the front office are exploring those possibilities ahead of the start of free agency.
Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office are determined to put together the best roster possible going into next season and all situations are on the table.
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