NBA Free Agent Rumors: Lakers Won’t Offer D’Angelo Russell Two-Year Max Extension
D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are in the early stages of decision-making for the 2023 offseason after being eliminated in the Western Conference Finals earlier this week. One of the biggest decisions they have to make revolves around the free agency of D’Angelo Russell.

If the Lakers choose, they could negotiate a deal with Russell before he hits free agency on June 30. Otherwise, they could allow him to enter unrestricted free agency which opens the door for other teams to make offers that the Lakers simply wouldn’t want to match.

The most L.A. can offer Russell prior to June 30 is a two-year contract worth a maximum of $67.5 million. At this point, their willingness to do that type of deal may be low, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Russell is eligible to sign a two-year, $67.5 million extension by June 30, which the Lakers will not pursue at the max number, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

It’s not difficult to see why the Lakers wouldn’t feel comfortable giving Russell a two-year deal worth nearly $34 million per season. After acquiring him from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the trade deadline, Russell missed nine of the team’s final 26 regular season games due to injury.

Then, after solid performances in the first round and the conference semifinals, Russell was nearly unplayable in the Western Conference Finals. He averaged 6.3 points and 3.5 assists per game on shooting splits of 32.3/13.3/75.0 over the course of the four games.

That lack of production in a big moment rarely leads itself to a max extension offer. And the Lakers may be willing to take a risk that another team offers him that type of money.

It would still make the most sense for the Lakers to agree to some type of short-term deal with Russell. Losing him for nothing would be another in a long line of mismanaged assets, and a sign-and-trade deal appears complex given the Lakers would be hard-capped if they received a sign-and-trade player of their own.

Kyrie Irving and Fred VanVleet viewed as names to watch

In two potential sign-and-trade scenarios, names to watch for the Lakers have included Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. Both players have positives and negatives that include on and off-court issues, but it may come down to cost.

Of the two, VanVleet appears to be a more realistic option as receiving a max offer is unlikely for the veteran guard. Irving could still be given a max deal by the Mavericks, making it nearly impossible to swing a deal to L.A.

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