After the well-known scandal between rookie D’Angelo Russell and fellow teammate Nick Young, the young point guard has burned some bridges in the Lakers locker room and seems to be a consistent member of package deals rumored to be in store for the Los Angeles Lakers.
As the draft looms ahead on Thursday, the Lakers flexibility to trade Russell in a package deal could ultimately expedite the Los Angeles rebuilding effort with a number of different trades rumored to be in the process of putting together. With the Lakers really desiring senior Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield, here are a couple different trade options involving Russell that could provide the Lakers with a glimmer of hope in the seasons to come.
All basketball insiders have complimented the way the Boston Celtics have accumulated draft picks in their rebuilding effort, yet this Celtics team seems to have figured out a path to success despite not having a conventional superstar. This year, once again, the Celtics have multiple first round draft picks, the No. 3 overall, the No. 16 overall, and the No. 23 overall, which the Lakers could definitely use to rebuild their squad.
Thus, in this scenario, the Lakers would trade D’Angelo Russell to the Philadelphia 76ers who have been desperately looking for a floor general guard and would also love to see a duo between presumed first overall Ben Simmons and D’Angelo Russell who played together at the same academy. The 76ers would then send Jahlil Okafor, last year’s third overall pick, to the Celtics who would then send their third overall draft pick to the Lakers.
This could potentially satisfy all three parties in the trade, and the Lakers would most likely solve their missing guard problem with their No. 3 pick in the draft. However, with Okafor still very much unproven in the NBA, this deal could hinge on the Celtics taking a large gamble on Okafor as well as the Lakers taking a gamble with either Hield or another guard to replace Russell as a top guard.
With the Lakers-76ers-Celtics trade, the Lakers essentially trade away a rookie with great potential and one year under his belt for a largely unknown prospect, a gamble in itself. However, if the Lakers are unwilling to go further into the gambling abyss, the Minnesota Timberwolves provide both talent and a lottery draft pick, No. 5 overall, in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, Lou Williams, and Larry Nance Jr.
In this trade, the Lakers receive Zach Lavine and Nikola Pekovic in addition to the No. 5 overall pick, which could strengthen both the Los Angeles frontcourt with an improving Lavine and provide another lottery draft pick. While the Lakers would lose Russell, the upside to the trade would provide an expedited rebuilding effort for the Lakers and most likely bring in two talents that can shape the Laker organization for years to come.
The Lakers would ultimately have to convince the Timberwolves of Russell both on and off the court. Russell has great potential as a guard in the league, but with the Timberwolves already full on guard’s minutes with both Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins, this trade most likely depends on the Timberwolves adding yet another guard to their packed rotation.
For Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak, this offseason needs to be productive and a step in the right direction. The Lakers have consistently sunken lower and lower in the past couple seasons, and rebuilding efforts have yet to truly take fruition in the anxious Los Angeles organization. Kupchak stated in a press conference earlier this year, “The number one challenge this offseason is to improve the talent level”.
Therefore, the Lakers need more talent ready to compete this year rather than some rookies that could potentially turn out great once the gamble on them has already been set. The Lakers could be interested in dealing with the Utah Jazz and their star forward Gordon Hayward who is already proven to be near superstar quality in the NBA. The Jazz, likewise, would definitely be interested in acquiring both Russell and most likely the second overall pick in the draft and then building a team around a strong core of Dante Exum, D’Angelo Russell, most likely Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick, and more.
This trade seems tantalizing both teams searching for answers that best suit each team, yet whether the Lakers are ready to give up the second overall pick in addition to Russell seems very low. Either way, this trade becomes a story of youth for proven talent, and the Lakers would have to be really desperate for success to complete this trade.
Any Top 5 Overall
At the end of the day, the Lakers are truly searching for more draft picks when looking to offload D’Angelo Russell. Despite Russell’s growth throughout the year, the Lakers feel confident in their workouts this summer with either Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray. Whether the trade may or may not come may depend on the quality of the draft picks and ultimately the confidence Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the Laker organization have with delaying a rebuilding effort a year or so for even more players. Essentially, the Lakers and their fans must play the waiting game.
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