D'Angelo Russell Decision Signals Incoming Lakers Trade

The Los Angeles Lakers will likely make a big trade soon following D'Angelo Russell's decision.
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, Lakers fans woke up to the surprising update of D'Angelo Russell picking up his player option for the 2024-25 season. First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, the 28-year-old point guard will not be hitting unrestricted free agency this summer. Instead, he will be on an expiring contract worth $18.7 million with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lakers News: D'Angelo Russell Picks Up Player Option

This highlights how little interest there must have been for Russell in the open market. There simply aren't too many teams with cap space who would want to spend it on Russell. There are more prominent free agents out there and teams will be competing for them in the early days of free agency, potentially squeezing out Russell in the process. There were likely not going to be any offers close to his $18.7 million salary for next year.

This doesn't mean that Russell will be in a Lakers uniform for much longer. In fact, it's difficult to imagine the Lakers starting the season with Russell on the roster. What this does is, it gives the Lakers another trade asset in potential negotiations. He may not be a playoff player but Russell is still a good player who can contribute to scorer-needy teams. Plus. an expiring contract is an asset on its own for teams trying to clear salary for next offseason.

The Lakers have their 2029 and 2031 first-round picks that they can trade. They have young players like Dalton Knecht, Max Christie, and Jalen Hood-Schino that they can use in deals. They will have to combine these assets with the salaries of Russell, Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent, and Jarred Vanderbilt to make the necessary upgrades to the roster. Whether GM Rob Pelinka can pull that off and turn this team into a championship contender remains to be seen.

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