The most popular Los Angeles Lakers player in trade rumors over the last couple of months is D’Angelo Russell, who re-signed with the team in the offseason knowing that this was likely to happen.
When Russell re-signed, he waived his de facto no-trade clause, making his $18 million contract perfect to put in trades leading up to the deadline.
In recent weeks though, Russell has played so well that he may have made himself indispensable to the organization. Since being moved back into the starting lineup 13 games ago, Russell has averaged 24.0 points and 6.5 assists while shooting 46.6% from 3-point range on 8.9 attempts per game. The Lakers are 8-5 in that span, showing signs of improvement.
While the Lakers have been linked to a number of players on the trade market such as Dejounte Murray and Bruce Brown, it’s hard to fathom them or anyone else being able to match the production that Russell has been putting up in recent weeks. Because of that, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the Lakers’ calculus leading up to Thursday’s 12 p.m. PT deadline has changed:
“I think for L.A., their calculus has changed here in recent weeks with the reemergence of D’Angelo Russell as their point guard. He’s playing not just some of his best basketball as a Laker, some of his best basketball as a pro. Maybe three weeks to a month ago, he was very available. And I think the Lakers thought there might be some opportunities to upgrade on him. That isn’t the case right now. And players who the Lakers have had interest in, Dejounte Murray, Bruce Brown, specifically with Brown, it’s really hard for them to make the money work on a trade without putting D’Angelo Russell in and that doesn’t really make sense for them. I think here’s what the Lakers are hoping: that they can get Cam Reddish back here relatively soon, Gabe Vincent, and the hope that Jarred Vanderbilt may not need surgery on his injured foot, that they can get him back in a few weeks. I think that’s what the Lakers are weighing. I think they’re gonna continue to be active, but I think there’s a level of restraint there with L.A. that maybe for what they want to do, the offseason, when they have three first-round picks available for trades versus the one right now, that would get them involved in some more significant trade scenarios.”
Barring a trade for Murray, which doesn’t seem likely to happen, it’s hard to imagine the Lakers shipping out Russell at the deadline and improving their roster to get to the point where they’re in the championship mix.
So with that being the case, the Lakers will likely hold onto Russell and try to make other moves to improve the roster, potentially putting the injured Gabe Vincent in trades for salary matching purposes.
Lakers looking to pursue Donovan Mitchell this summer?
If the Lakers don’t deal away their 2029 first-round pick then reports indicate they have plans of chasing another star like Donovan Mitchell in the offseason, which could be their best path back to championship contention.
L.A. would have three first-round picks available to trade by the time the offseason rolls around.
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