With the 2019 NBA Draft completed, the Los Angeles Lakers shift their attention to free agency on June 30 in perhaps one of the most important offseasons in team history.
As most are aware of, the Anthony Davis trade is expected to be completed on July 6 and the Lakers will have $23.7-$32.5 million in cap space to improve the roster.
Since $8.8 million is a significant difference that could impact the team’s plans, the Lakers would have to consider options outside of Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker — just to name a few.
Depending on how free agency goes, D’Angelo Russell reportedly ‘may be open’ to the idea of returning to Los Angeles, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
Russell’s breakup with the Lakers wasn’t pretty, but it’s difficult to hold grudges in this league. With Johnson gone, some close to Russell have indicated he may be open to the idea if Brooklyn isn’t in the picture.
If the Brooklyn Nets are able to sign both Irving and Kevin Durant, Russell would eventually become an unrestricted free agent, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Irving, a six-time All-Star, will become an unrestricted free agent, and league sources say he remains intensely interested in the Brooklyn Nets. The New York Knicks are expected to remain competitive for Irving, too, sources told ESPN.
As the former No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Lakers traded Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for Brook Lopez’s expiring contract and Kyle Kuzma. At the time of the trade, former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson wanted to create two max-contract slots.
When Russell finally reached his All-Star potential during the 2018-19 NBA season and led the Nets to their first NBA playoffs appearance since the 2014-15 season, Johnson and the Lakers were heavily criticized for the trade.
Although Russell signing with the Lakers seems unlikely, stranger things have happened. At just 23-years-old, Russell would be a good fit next to Davis and LeBron James.
With June 30 quickly approaching, all eyes will be on general manager Rob Pelinka to properly construct a championship contender around two All-Star players.