In a recent development, D’Angelo Russell has agreed to a lucrative two-year contract worth $37 million with the Los Angeles Lakers. This information was revealed by Austin Brown and Aaron Mintz, co-heads of CAA Basketball, along with Antonio Russell, to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Saturday. The deal includes a player option for the second year.
Russell’s Return to the Lakers
D’Angelo Russell, who was originally drafted by the Lakers as the No. 2 pick in 2015, made his way back to the team in February. This was made possible through a three-team trade involving the Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Utah Jazz. Russell’s arrival was intended to fill the void left by the departure of Russell Westbrook.
Russell’s Performance and Impact
Following his return to the Lakers, Russell showcased impressive skills on the court. In the 17 regular season games after the trade, he averaged 17.4 points, shooting at an impressive rate of 48.4% from the field and 41.4% from beyond the arc. Additionally, he provided 6.1 assists per game. The Lakers’ performance during this period was commendable, winning 12 out of 17 games and maintaining a positive point differential of 7.3, as per ESPN Stats & Information research.
However, his numbers took a dip during the postseason. Russell’s scoring average dropped to 13.3 points, with a shooting percentage of 42.6% overall and 31% from three-point range. He also struggled significantly against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals, averaging a mere 6.8 points on 32.2% shooting throughout the series. Consequently, he lost his starting position in Game 4.
Impressive Contributions to Lakers’ Success
Despite his struggles against the Nuggets, Russell played a pivotal role in the Lakers’ success leading up to that point. Prior to the downturn in performance, the team won an impressive 18 out of 24 games, spanning the end of the regular season, the play-in tournament, and the first two rounds of the playoffs. Russell’s shooting prowess and playmaking abilities proved valuable alongside superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Retained Core and Added Depth
The Lakers have made a conscious effort to retain the core of the team that reached the Western Conference finals. Alongside D’Angelo Russell, players like Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves have also been retained. This continuity ensures stability and familiarity within the team.
Moreover, the Lakers have made additional moves to bolster their roster. They have secured deals with guard Gabe Vincent, forwards Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish, and big man Jaxson Hayes. These acquisitions provide the team with increased depth across all positions, further strengthening their chances of success in the upcoming season.