Lakers Rumors: L.A. Discussing Front-Loaded Two-Year Contract For D’Angelo Russell
D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The point guard position is the biggest question mark for the Los Angeles Lakers as free agency quickly approaches.

The most pivotal decision the Lakers need to make is on the future of D’Angelo Russell, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Russell was the headliner in the deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz, but after a poor Western Conference Finals showing could very well be out of Los Angeles much sooner than anticipated.

So far, it seems the Lakers have been intent on trying to seek out a sign-and-trade to upgrade at the position but there reportedly hasn’t been much traction on such a deal. If a sign-and-trade doesn’t materialize, then L.A.’s best course of action would be to re-sign Russell.

According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, one possible contract would be a two-year deal that pays out more in the first year:

Given Russell’s inconsistent playoff performance and the lack of league-wide interest in him, the Lakers should have the upper-hand in contract negotiations. One framework the Lakers have discussed internally, according to multiple team sources not authorized to speak publicly, is signing Russell to a front-loaded two-year deal – either with an option in the second year or a straight two-year contract – that both gives him the salary he wants and keeps him on the same timeline as James (player option in 2024) and Davis (has an early termination option in 2024 and is eligible for a contract extension in August).

The Lakers own Russell’s Bird Rights which means they are able to offer him more money than any other team and go over the salary cap to do so. However, L.A. shouldn’t have to go anywhere near his max after the postseason he had, so retaining him at a discount for the foreseeable future feels like a fair outcome.

Things change quickly in the NBA, though, so a trade involving the former No. 2 overall pick could very well happen still. For now, the situation bears monitoring.

Lakers not expected to go big-game hunting in summer

With Bradley Beal being traded to the Phoenix Suns in a blockbuster move, the rest of the league could feel the need to chase after other star players to bolster their roster. Anytime those types of players can be had, the Lakers are always in the mix but it appears that the franchise is actually going to sit out the frenzy this year as they look to build on the success they just had.

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