D’Angelo Russell’s future with Lakers still uncertain

(Compton Bulletin) – Los Angeles Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell is constantly on the frontline of the team’s offense since he joined the purple and gold from the Minnesota Timberwolves. His future with the Lakers will be something to discuss in the offseason as he is eligible for a $67.5 million extension with the team.

The Lakers’ numbers have improved drastically since Russell’s second stint with the team. Los Angeles grabbed a spot in the playoffs after a 2-10 score at the beginning of the season once they defeated Russell’s previous team, the Timberwolves, in the play-in tournament.

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 07:Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) before the Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Lakers game on April 07, 2023, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)

The Lakers had a 0.3 percent chance of moving forward in the postseason after their porous start. During the regular season, Russell averaged 17.4 points, 6.1 assists, and 2.9 rebounds. So far this postseason, he has averaged 19 points, seven assists, and four rebounds.

Russell made improvement during Game 1 of the Lakers’ first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies after an unusually inactive game against Minnesota for the playoff spot. In the play-in match with his old team, he plugged in just two points.

Although his shots were off, Russell still showed off some productivity for the team, handing out eight assists. In response to the unsatisfying numbers he had against Minnesota, Russell said he still has the ability to influence the outcome of a game.

“I try to show that I’m that type of player,” he said. “I could’ve had 20 assists that night. Could’ve had 15 assists that night. If I’m not making shots, I can still control the game. Simple as that.”

In the postgame press conference after Russell’s underwhelming performance, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said, “Well, you know, you’re gonna have rough nights out here and I have all the confidence in the world in D’Lo. We’re gonna need him on this run…You know, it’s a long season; some nights it’s not gonna be your night.

Ham continued, “Again, that’s why you try to fortify your roster with multiple players who are capable of once you call their number, they’re able to not just go out there and gobble up minutes but get minutes and play at a high level…make no mistake we brought D’Lo out here to come out here and be D’Lo and to make plays.”

Ham’s comment about Russell bouncing back was spot on. In Game 1 against Memphis, he came back with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists to help the Lakers steal the win while on the road.

Russell said, “That’s what I do. I’m a shot-maker man. I thought we had good looks…I was trying to make passes to make the game easier for the other guys. Then eventually I saw one go in and that was kind of what I needed.”

Right now, Russell is averaging 13.8 points in the postseason for the Lakers. His future with Los Angeles depends on how he does for the remainder of the playoffs. We have seen both versions of him; his impressive shooting and passing during an important game.

However, to pocket the potential contract he wants, Russell is going to have to continue putting up the numbers Ham and the Lakers need him to. That would also mean playing a bigger role against Memphis as the Lakers move to close out the series in either Game 6 or Game 7.

Russell’s contract extension worries would receive a tremendous boost should the Lakers get past Ja Morant and the Grizzlies in the first round. However, the water for the extension he is seeking would probably get muddied should Russell flame out and the Lakers get bounced from the postseason in an early exit.

Russell is eligible to sign a contract with the Lakers until June 30, according to ESPN. If the Lakers choose not to sign him, Russell becomes a free agent this summer.

Featured Image Caption: CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 29: Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a 3-point basket during a NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls on March 29, 2023 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)