ESPN’s Brian Windhorst thinks a reunion between two parties that had a falling out would be the perfect fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.
“I think they’re obviously going to call all the top free agents. They’re going to call Kawhi Leonard. They’re going to call Kyrie Irving and wait to be told ‘no’ by them. But they’re not going to have a max salary slot, in all likelihood. That means, probably breaking up it amongst several players. And I’ll tell you one name that explodes off the page to me that would be incredibly remarkable: D’Angelo Russell. If Kyrie Irving spurns the Lakers and the Knicks to go sign with the Nets, D’Angelo Russell could end up being an unrestricted free agent and he would be the exact kind of player that you would want to put alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Now, obviously, the Lakers traded him away because of all the issues he was having in the locker room. That said, all those folks who he had issues with are gone; [Magic Johnson], Nick Young, a lot of those other teammates. I think they should at least consider it.”
Just not the one you expect.
Windhorst suggested on Monday’s Get Up that the Lakers pursue D’Angelo Russell if he becomes an unrestricted free agent:
The Lakers traded Russell to the Brooklyn Nets in 2017 as part of a deal to dump Timofey Mozgov’s salary. Russell, who butted heads with teammates and displayed signs of immaturity in two years with the Lakers, blossomed into an All-Star in Brooklyn. His ability to create shots off the dribble and knock down threes would be a strong fit next to James and Davis, essentially giving them a Kyrie Lite.
The Lakers having a chance to land Russell is contingent on the Nets signing the actual Kyrie, which would likely lead to them renouncing Russell’s rights. It’s possible, albeit unlikely, that Brooklyn could go into next season with a Kyrie-Russell backcourt. Their roster is already laden with backcourt talent, so it would make more sense for Brooklyn to emphasize making a frontcourt splash if it landed Irving.
Landing Russell would also require Anthony Davis to waive his $4 million trade kicker. That would give the Lakers enough cap space to sign Russell to a max contract under the 25 percent max. The Lakers and Pelicans could also push back the execution date of their Davis agreement to July 30 to facilitate the signing.