Will the Lakers trade D’Angelo Russell for an additional top-5 pick ahead of Thursday’s NBA Draft? This rumor hasn’t gained traction since ESPN draft insider Chad Ford’s speculation.
“I think (it’s) more likely the Lakers are trying to pick up another pick in this draft in the top five and the guy that they have that they can shop is D’Angelo Russell, a guy who was their No. 2 pick in the draft last year but burned some bridges in the locker room,” Ford told SportsCenter on Saturday.
It’s almost a lock that Lakers are drafting forward Brandon Ingram with the No. 2 pick. Let’s presume that Russell is on the trading block for a top-5 pick. The Lakers are reportedly high on Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield – one of whom they can secure with an additional lottery pick.
Here are five trades that the Lakers must consider:
#1 Three-way deal with Celtics, Sixers
Lakers receive: Boston’s No. 3 pick
Celtics receive: Jahlil Okafor
Sixers receive: D’Angelo Russell
Why the Lakers would do it: They will get to pick No. 2 and No. 3 on Thursday. That would secure them a haul of Brandon Ingram and one of their Buddy Hield, Jamaal Murray or Kris Dunn (to replace Russell). Ford opined that “Russell has burned some bridges” in the locker room. This move allows them to start afresh by replacing Russell with a rookie guard to pair up with Jordan Clarkson.
Why the Celtics would do it: Boston has been on the Okafor train for close to two years. They have been aggressively shopping their No. 3 pick. While Boston would ideally prefer to land Jimmy Butler or an established star, Ford reckons they have a better shot at landing someone like Okafor. “It’s clear the Celtics would prefer to package these picks along with other players on their roster for a veteran superstar. But that trade might not be available,” Ford wrote in an insider piece.
Why the Sixers would do it: 1) They can reunite buddies Ben Simmons and D’Angelo Russell, former teammates at Montverde Academy. 2) They are desperate for a point guard. 3) They are actively looking to trade Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel.
#2 For Eric Bledsoe, two lottery picks
Lakers receive: No. 4 pick, No. 14 pick and Eric Bledsoe
Phoenix receive: D’Angelo Russell, 2017 draft pick, Lou Williams and Larry Nance
Why the Lakers would do it: With the No. 4 pick, the Lakers can add Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield or Jamaal Murray to replace the hole left by Russell. With the No. 14 pick, they can target Domantas Sabonis, Skal Labissiere or Henry Ellenson to shore up the front court. Bledsoe can become the starting PG while allowing the No. 4 pick to come off the bench. Also, Bledsoe can be used as a good trading chip for the future. The Lakers could also consider Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender with the No. 4 pick. By going through with this trade, they have plenty of options.
Why the Suns would do it: Phoenix have a decision to make between Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe. It’s impossible for them to accommodate Devin Booker, Knight and Bledsoe in the starting 5. It seems like they prefer the backcourt pairing of Booker and Knight. According to NBA Draft Net, Bledsoe’s agent Rich Paul “will push to have Eric Bledsoe moved this offseason putting Kris Dunn in play at 4 as well.” Bledsoe has three years left on his contract and is a good trade chip.
#3 Dealing with the Timberwolves
Lakers receive: Zach LaVine, No. 5 pick and Nikola Pekovic
Timberwolves receive: D’Angelo Russell, Lou Williams and Larry Nance
Why the Lakers would do it: Again, Los Angeles can draft Dunn, Murray or Hield with the No. 5 pick. In LaVine, they get an athletic guard who has made rapid strides through his first two seasons. In Pekovic, they get an established big with two years left on his contract. While Pekovic can prove to be a defensive liability, he’s capable of averaging over 15 ppg if given good minutes.
Why the Timberwolves would do it: Clearly, Minnesota is struggling to find playing time for both Pekovic and LaVine. In the aftermath of his Achilles injury, Pekovic is a forgotten man in Minnesota’s rotation. LaVine is still battling for minutes with starting PG Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins and Tyus Jones. The sophomore averaged 14 ppg from 28 minutes last season.
#4 Sacrifice assets for Boogie Cousins
Lakers receive: DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein and No. 8 Pick
Kings receive: D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, No. 2 Pick, 2017 Pick and Lou Williams
Why the Lakers would do it: Los Angeles have, for long, been fascinated with the idea of acquiring Cousins. It’s highly unlikely that they agree to ship the No. 2 pick. But if the Kings agree to include Willie Cauley-Stein and the No. 8 Pick in a packaged deal, the Lakers could be willing to include Russell, Randle and Lou Williams in what would go down as a trade for the ages. The Lakers are desperate for a rim protector; Cauley-Stein has great potential. With the No. 8 pick, L.A. could pick a young guard to pair up with Jordan Clarkson in the backcourt.
Why the Kings would do it: Sacramento, set to begin a new era under coach Dave Joerger, could add a potential all-star in Brandon Ingram and a young double-double machine in Julius Randle while giving up the player largely responsible for the team’s locker room woes (Cousins). The Kings could also secure Russell as the point guard of the future, seeing as Rajon Rondo is expected to bolt in free agency. This trade would allow both teams to build around a fresh set of players.
#5 Send D’Angelo Russell To Denver?
Lakers receive: No. 7 pick, Nikola Jokic
Nuggets receive: D’Angelo Russell
Why the Lakers would do it: L.A can draft one of Buddy Hield, Jamaal Murray or Kriss Dunn at No. 7 to replace the hole left by Russell. Jokic would be the ideal stretch 4/5 under Luke Walton’s motion offense. Jokic finished No. 3 in the rookie of the year voting and has all-star potential. The Lakers are desperate for quality big men and Jokic, 21, has tremendous upside.
Why the Nuggets would do it: Denver could potentially form a backcourt of Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay. The latter can’t shoot but has shown great playmaking abilty. The former has shown great scoring ability but fails to penetrate defenses. It could be a great pairing since Nuggets could use some scoring. Mudiay can turn into a great PG but lacks a jump shot. After one season in the league, Russell has definitely shown more promise than Mudiay.
The Lakers could walk out of Thursday’s draft with both Brandon Ingram and Buddy Hield. Don’t rule out the possibility. Is D’Angelo Russell headed somewhere else?