title image via Lakers Nation
Courtesy of Paul Kasabian, Bleacher Report
The Los Angeles Lakers have been in a tailspin for a month, losing 10 of their last 14 games to fall below .500 (19-20). With the Feb. 8 trade deadline looming, the question now is what the Lakers can or will do to rejuvenate the season.
Options might be a bit limited due to prohibitive contracts, though, per Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, who noted in particular that D’Angelo Russell’s $18.7 million player option is “expected to give teams pause” in trade talks.
“The veteran players the Lakers can send out likely won’t drive much interest beyond the way their salaries are required to make a trade work. Russell’s looming player option for $18.7 million next season is big enough that it’s expected to give teams pause. Hachimura has two more years at $35 million and Gabe Vincent is due more than $22 million over the next two years. Both players’ seasons have been defined by injuries, with Vincent playing only five games.”
Russell, 27, has averaged 14.7 points and 6.1 assists in his ninth NBA season.
He’s shot 46.4 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range in his 35 games (28 starts). Russell landed in L.A. after the Minnesota Timberwolves dealt him there in a three-team trade also involving the Golden State Warriors.
This is Russell’s second stint in L.A., which selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft out of Ohio State. He’s since played for the Brooklyn Nets and T-Wolves before heading back to the Lakers.
Russell was part of a midseason makeover for the 2022-23 Lakers, who reached the Western Conference Finals as a No. 7 seed. The team largely ran it back this season, but the results just haven’t been there.
It’s certainly possible moves are made before the Feb. 8 trade deadline, but it appears that Russell’s contract might be an issue if dealing him is a route Los Angeles wants to go.
“Around the league, D’Angelo Russell’s $17 million salary has not been viewed as a valuable trade chip for the Lakers to bolster their roster behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis,” Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported.
At the moment, Russell remains a Laker. We’ll see if that’s the case in a month, but early returns indicate that he probably will be once the deadline passes given recent reports on his contract.