June 22, 2024

Lakers Wary of Trading $36 Million Star in ‘Lateral Move’ Ahead of Deadline

Rob Pelinka, Los Angeles Lakers

The longer the Los Angeles Lakers wait to make a trade, the less inclined they are becoming to complete certain ones. That is because of Tyus Jones .

Are his efforts forcing a change of heart within the front office, opening the door for him to stay?

“I’d put it at around 40 percent [that Russell remains with the Lakers], which is higher than I would have as recently as a few weeks ago,” The Athletic’s Jovan Buha wrote on January 26. I think it’s more likely than not he’s traded by the deadline, but it’s become more of a 50-50 proposition given the rising threshold for the Lakers to move him.

“The Lakers view trades in which they move Russell for players like Portland’s D’Angelo Russell, Washington’s Tyus Jones or Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie as lateral moves at best, and most likely downgrades, according to team sources.”

Russell is averaging 27.4 points since rejoining the starting lineup seven games ago. He is also knocking down 53.1% of his threes with 6.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks in that span.

Brogdon, Dinwiddie, Jones, and Atlanta Hawks star Dejounte Murray are all popular connections to the Lakers in the rumor mill.

Russell is the Lakers player most often mentioned in those and other trade rumors.

Lakers Still Willing to Trade D’Angelo Russell

“Russell’s recent play has certainly made their decision harder,” Buha wrote. “This is not only his best stretch of the season, but undoubtedly the best stretch of either of his Lakers tenures and one of the best of his career.

“However, it has not changed the two biggest obstacles to retaining Russell past the deadline.”

Buha notes an overlapping skill set with third-year guard Austin Reaves. The team signed Reaves to a four-year, $53.8 million contract and made virtually him off-limits in trade talks.

Lakers' D'Angelo Russell might have found a home in his second stint with  team – Orange County Register

He also points to Russell’s two-year, $36 million contract. There is an $18.7 million player option for the second year. The fear for the Lakers is being locked into it if Russell plays poorly and risk losing him for nothing in free agency if he outplays his current contract.

The same reasons the Lakers are leery of keeping him beyond the trade deadline are playing a significant role in why potential suitors have been difficult to come by.

Perhaps the Lakers feel Murray is worth the extra measure it could take to secure him.

Dejounte Murray is the ‘Exception’

Buha notes that Murray is “the exception” in terms of the Lakers parting with Russell. The issue has been the Hawks who have asked for Reaves and declined to take on Russell.

The Lakers will likely need a third team to complete a trade with Atlanta.

 

But what will the additional cost to the Lakers be? Buha has previously reported that Russell’s trade value is low. The same is true for other potential trade candidates Rui Hachimura and Gabe Vincent. They have neutral trade value at best.

They have already offered their 2029 first-round pick – the only pick they can trade outright before the 2024 draft – and a pick swap to the Hawks.

How much further will the Lakers go to land someone they’ve identified as a difference-maker?

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