3 Lakers on Thin Ice if LeBron James Leaves

These three names would also likely depart if LeBron James were to leave Los Angeles this summer.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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2. D'Angelo Russell

This might happen regardless of what LeBron James decides. Russell also has a player option for next season worth $18.6 million. After he had a healthy, productive season with the Lakers in the regular season, Russell is likely to opt-out of that and get a lucrative, long-term deal for similar annual value.

At this point, the Lakers are all too familiar with strengths and weaknesses of Russell's game. He is a good regular-season player, capable of scoring, running the pick-and-roll, and playmaking at a decent level. In the playoffs, however, his effectiveness takes a huge hit as he struggles to create good shots against good defenses. He also brings his own defensive liabilities on the other end, making him a tough fit on good, competitive teams.

Russell is a much better fit on a team with lower aspirations. A team chasing the playoffs or a young team looking for someone to organize their offense could benefit from Russell. If LeBron leaves, the Lakers might become that type of team and could use Russell.

However, giving him a multi-year deal that takes him into his 30s would be a big mistake for the Lakers. You don't want to end up with a contract that will be hard to get out of later, so it's best to just avoid it altogether.