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Lakers Free Agency: D’Angelo Russell ‘Likely’ Back to Team on Team-Friendly, Shorter-Term Deal

D’Angelo Russell’s Potential Free Agency and Lakers’ Draft Pick: An Interview with Jovan Buha

In a recent interview with Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Ricky of Late Night Lake Show dug into the Los Angeles Lakers’ off-season plans and how their draft pick, Jalen-Hood Schfino, might impact D’Angelo Russell’s long term future with the team. This thoughtful conversation provides valuable insights into the Lakers’ free agency strategy, Russell’s potential contract negotiations, and the team’s long-term goals.

[Note: This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity. The full interview is available on YouTube and as a podcast.]

D’Angelo Russell’s Future with the Lakers:
Ricky wasted no time addressing the pressing question surrounding D’Angelo Russell’s future with the Lakers. Given Lakers GM Rob Pelinka envisions Jalen Hood-Schfino as a complementary fit next to restricted free agent Austin Reaves, Ricky asked Jovan Buha if these moves indicated anything about the Lakers’ plans for Russell. Buha explained that while rumors have been circulating, it seems likely that D’Angelo Russell will be back with the Lakers. However, the duration of his contract may have changed, suggesting a potential shift towards a short-term deal.

The Two-Year Deal:
Buha shared his belief that the Lakers will ‘likely’ try to sign D’Angelo Russell to a two-year deal, aligning his tenure with the timeline of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. This approach would grant the Lakers flexibility to pivot during the summer of 2025, depending on various factors. Buha emphasized that negotiations and leverage would play a significant role in determining the final contract amount.

The Financial Factor:
Buha stressed that the Lakers have a financial incentive to carefully manage their roster to avoid surpassing the luxury tax apron. Given the potential constraints associated with exceeding this threshold, the Lakers need to be shrewd in their decision-making. Buha suggested that a difference of just $5 million in Russell’s contract could have a significant impact on the team’s ability to build a competitive roster.

The Free Agency Market:

Ricky and Buha engaged in a discussion about the potential market for D’Angelo Russell in free agency and the likelihood of other teams offering him a more lucrative contract than the Lakers. To provide context, here are the top five teams with the most projected cap space:

TeamCap Space
Houston Rockets$59,783,491
Utah Jazz$43,928,675
San Antonio Spurs$37,477,403
Indiana Pacers$32,152,523
Detroit Pistons$27,819,304
cap space compiled by Spotrac as of June 25

Buha pointed out that when considering potential suitors for D’Angelo Russell, it becomes evident that the market for him may not be as robust as initially anticipated. Several teams on the list had already addressed their point guard needs through the draft or had existing depth at the position. Thus, it raises questions about which team would be willing to offer Russell a significantly higher contract than what the Lakers could provide.

The interviewee also speculated that the Lakers might adopt a strategic approach by initially offering a contract in the range of $36-40 million for two years, challenging other teams to exceed it. This stance reflects the Lakers’ understanding of the limited options available to Russell in free agency.

Exploring Point Guard Options:
The interview shifted focus to other possible options at the point guard position for the Lakers. While rumors surrounding Kyrie Irving persisted, Buha suggested that a reunion between Irving and the Lakers seemed unlikely. The constraints associated with a potential sign-and-trade deal for Fred VanVleet also made it an improbable scenario. Buha acknowledged that the point guard market was relatively thin, and the Lakers might opt to retain D’Angelo Russell to maintain a solid asset. However, he speculated that trade rumors might resurface closer to the trade deadline if the Lakers aimed to upgrade the position.

While the Lakers appear interested in keeping D’Angelo Russell, they might prefer a shorter contract duration than initially expected. To stay informed about the latest news and analysis on the Los Angeles Lakers’ off-season plans and the future of Russell, make sure to subscribe to Late Night Lake Show on YouTube and your favorite podcast platform. By subscribing, you’ll never miss an episode and will be fully up-to-date with the developments surrounding the Lakers.

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