“One rumor making the (media) round these days has been a Lakers/Bulls deal with a sign and trade, D’Angelo Russell for DeRozan,” writes Sam Smith of NBA.com. “There’s obviously have been no discussion since they are not allowed now. …But DeRozan long has expressed a desire to finish at home in LA, LeBron [James] likes him…and Russell is an excellent three-point shooter and a point guard. And if [Lonzo] Ball can return, either could play off the ball.”
Ball has been out since mid-January of 2022 and could miss the entire 2023-24 season as well leaving the Bulls in quite the predicament of needing to address the issue (by finding a new starting point guard) but they have few avenues to feasibly do so.
Russell, 27, is in the final year of a four-year, $117 million contract.
The soon-to-be unrestricted free agent is enjoying a resurgence in his second stint with the Los Angeles Lakers averaging 18.6 points, 6.4 assists, and 3.1 rebounds while knocking down 39.5% of his threes since being traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the trade deadline.
At his scoring peak, he averaged 21-plus points per game for three teams across two seasons in 2019 and 2020 but he is also a quality playmaker.
Given Russell’s impressive play, it makes sense that the Lakers want to keep him around and the feeling appears mutual.
Bulls Might Not Get Shot at D’Angelo Russell
“Both the Lakers and D’Angelo Russell have already expressed to each other an interest in starting conversations on a contract extension,” reported ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on February 16. “The Lakers traded for him – a first-round pick, two second-round picks – not to be a rental, but to be a solution at that point guard position. So expect the Lakers and D’Angelo Russell to really start engaging in those extension talks here in the weeks and months into the offseason.”
But an extension does not mean that Russell will finish out that contract with the Lakers or even see all of next season, though there could be a six-month restriction following any new deal.
Russell was a part of the Lakers’ big re-tool at this year’s trade deadline.
They shipped out the aforementioned assets in addition to center Damian Jones, forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Russell Westbrook. The deal also brought back swingman Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt in an attempt to boost the Lakers’ playoff chances in the jumbled-up Western Conference.
It has worked with L.A. going 11-7 since the trade deadline, though they are just 7-5 since James went down with a foot injury.
That could make it even more likely that Russell and the Lakers look to get something done.
Bulls Could Send DeMar DeRozan Home
DeRozan, 34, is heading into the final year of his deal and thought he was joining the Lakers before they decided to trade for Westbrook instead. He was also said to have had eyes for the New York Knicks over the Bulls when he was a free agent in the 2021 offseason.
We also know that the Lakers have had talks about acquiring him after that.
“The trade I saw on Twitter was Russ and both picks, one with light protections I think for DeRozan and Vucevic,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on the ‘Lowe Post Podcast’ on December 2. “I can tell you 100% for sure that the Lakers have had internal discussions about that very possibility — if it would ever come up.”
With Westbrook elsewhere, perhaps the Lakers could be persuaded to pull this exchange should they find Russell’s asking price to be less than appealing.
That might mean potentially overpaying for a player who has had his fair share of injuries.