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Lakers won’t look to give D’Angelo Russell a max contract

The biggest personnel question facing the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason, other than whether LeBron James may actually retire, is whether guard D’Angelo Russell will return.

He was perhaps the most impactful player they traded for at midseason, and he did very well in 17 regular season games with them, putting up 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per game while shooting 48.4 percent overall and 41.4 percent from 3-point range.

But he was inconsistent during the playoffs and downright bad in the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets. It got to the point where head coach Darvin Ham brought him off the bench in Game 4.

Unless the Lakers fully intend to go after a bigger name at point guard, they will still likely look to keep Russell, who will be a free agent this summer, on a new contract. But they won’t pay him top dollar.


“Russell is eligible to sign a two-year, $67.5 million extension by June 30, which the Lakers will not pursue at the maximum number, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.”

But one thing that could help the Lakers is the fact that there may not be a big market for him elsewhere.

“And the market could be flat for the 27-year-old Russell, as the teams with that type of cap space this summer — Houston, San Antonio, Utah, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Detroit and Indiana — are either still in rebuild mode or already filled at the position.”

In the absence of a big deal for someone such as Kyrie Irving, LA will certainly need Russell’s ball-handling, facilitating and scoring abilities to reduce James’ workload, especially during the regular season.

The Lakers saw Russell as a ‘positive presence’

Even when he wasn’t playing well, Russell seemed to sport a positive attitude, as he cheered on his teammates from the bench. It reportedly led the team to see him in a positive light.

Via Yahoo Sports:

“Then there’s the matter of Russell, who was seeking a new deal worth upwards of $100 million over four years when he was with the Timberwolves, sources said,” wrote Fischer. “After an inconsistent postseason, it’s hard to imagine many bidders for Russell at that price point. That could certainly benefit the Lakers if they intend to retain him. He was the headliner, after all, of Los Angeles’ return from February’s three-team swap that sent out a first-round pick in addition to Russell Westbrook’s expiring salary, and also netted [Malik] Beasley et al [Jarred] Vanderbilt. Russell, though, does not bring the defensive tenacity preferred by head coach Darvin Ham. And the Lakers may be wise in exploring sign-and-trade scenarios that could bring back a player that fits more cohesively with this roster.

“But Russell was also seen as a positive presence around the Lakers, sources said. Even as his time watching from the bench increased, he was still flashing the team’s 3-point celebration when teammates connected from deep. Perhaps a short-term agreement can get Russell closer to the average annual value he was said to be seeking. A two-year deal worth roughly $40 million could give Russell his riches and also leave the Lakers with a movable contract should they desire that type of flexibility.”

It remains to be seen if Russell has any sincere desire to stay with the Lakers, the team that originally drafted him with the No. 2 picks in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire

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