Following Luke Walton’s introductory press conference on Tuesday, D’Angelo Russell spoke to the media at the team’s practice facility about his new head coach and recent trade rumors that had surfaced. Russell said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had set his mind at ease by saying he didn’t have to worry about the rumors about the point guard possibly being traded on draft day or at some point during the offseason.
Ahead of the NBA Draft on Thursday, the trade rumors resurfaced with the division rival Sacramento Kings said to be interested in Russell’s services, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein:
Sacramento has been heavily engaged in trade talks all week and sources say one player they’ve tried to land is the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 23, 2016
Last year, the Kings and Lakers were rumored to be engaged in trade talks with All-Star DeMarcus Cousins at the center of the deal. Although Cousins has recently said he’s happy in Sacramento, the Kings may be reconsidering sending the veteran center elsewhere if they’ve decided it was finally time to part ways.
As for Russell, the Ohio State product is presumably still safe as the team’s point guard of the future. Russell may have had an up and down rookie campaign but he showed signs of star potential which may have the Lakers brass convinced that he’s an important piece to team’s young core. Russell has also impressed the Lakers during the offseason so far with the point guard showing the work ethic the team was hoping they’d see this summer.
The real question for the Lakers now is whether the team can bring in the veteran talent they’ll be targeting in NBA free agency next month. The start of free agency is a week away with teams allowed to start reaching out to players on July 1 with the Lakers expected to be one of the most active franchises in the league.
Trades are also still a possibility for the Lakers, especially if their efforts to upgrade with free agents prove unsuccessful.