The 2023 trade deadline saw a complete change in the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster, with General Manager Rob Pelinka working tirelessly to secure a new point guard. Kyrie Irving, the biggest name at the time, was on their radar, but the Dallas Mavericks ultimately acquired him. This left the Lakers with a decision between two potential packages, one involving D’Angelo Russell and the other with Mike Conley.
In the end, the Lakers chose to go with a familiar face, bringing back D’Angelo Russell, who had previously been selected by the franchise as the number two overall pick in 2015. After being traded from the Lakers to the Brooklyn Nets, Russell became somewhat of a journeyman before finding himself in Minnesota alongside his close friend Karl-Anthony Towns. Many believed he had found his home there. However, playoff struggles and reported tensions with new teammate Rudy Gobert led to the Timberwolves deciding not to extend him, ultimately resulting in his return to the Lakers.
Leading up to this point, Russell had a solid year with the Timberwolves, averaging around 18 points, six assists, and shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc on seven attempts per game.
Despite his impressive performances, the defining moment came during the 2023 playoffs against the Denver Nuggets, where D’Angelo Russell faced significant struggles. He recently appeared on Patrick Beverley’s podcast, and when Beverley praised Russell’s shooting, Dlo candidly expressed his frustration about fans failing to recognize his accomplishments during that time.
Nevertheless, the Lakers re-signed D’Angelo Russell, sealing a contract worth $36 million over the next two years, with a player option for the 2024 season. This flexible deal provides an opportunity for Russell to prove himself as the Lakers’ championship point guard.
There’s no denying Russell’s impact when he first joined the Lakers after the trade, as his presence likely helped them secure a spot in the playoffs.
However, it is well-known that respect is earned in the postseason, and if D’Angelo Russell wants to be acknowledged for his elite shooting and versatility, he will need to demonstrate his abilities when it matters most. The pressure is on for Russell to step up in crucial moments and showcase his true potential on the court.