4 Lakers Who Won't Return Next Season

The Lakers' season is over. Who just played their final game for Los Angeles?
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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D'Angelo Russell

Another Laker who struggled in the playoffs was starting point guard D'Angelo Russell. The 28-year-old had an excellent regular season, averaging 18 points and 6.3 assists while shooting 41.5% from three. This raised Lakers fans' expectations of Russell for the postseason, but the former All-Star failed to live up to them once again. He averaged 14.2 points and 4.2 assists on 38.4% shooting from the field in five games against the Nuggets.

Russell has proven himself to be more of a regular-season player throughout his career. He is a competent pick-and-roll operator, decent scorer, and solid playmaker on the offensive end. At the same time, he is a defensive liability. Plus, his offensive production never seems to translate to the playoffs when opponents' defensive intensity increases.

The Lakers need to find more two-way players to surround their stars if they want to be a serious contender. Outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the rest of their rotation consists of one-way players. Russell is the epitome of that problem.

Russell has a player option worth $18 million for next season. He will likely opt out and look for a longer-term deal with more guaranteed money. The Lakers need an upgrade over Russell, so they should be wary of giving him that deal unless a sign-and-trade opportunity presents itself. Considering the cap situation of the Lakers, it really doesn't make much sense for them to give Russell close to $20 million per year.