D’Angelo Russell plans to exercise option to return to Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell intends to opt into the final year of his contract for $18.7 million, he told ESPN a day before the deadline.

Russell, 28, has been performing strongly for Los Angeles this season thanks to his improved form in the second half of the season. He finished his ninth season averaging 18.0 points on 45.6% shooting (41.5% on 3-pointers), 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds.

Russell, who found himself at the center of trade talks last season, has made it clear he intends to stay in Los Angeles and play under new Lakers coach JJ Redick.

“I love what JJ brings to the table and I see myself thriving under him to help win at a high level,” Russell told ESPN on Friday.

Jackson Hayes is also likely to opt to play out the final year of his contract, a source familiar with the center’s intentions told ESPN, confirming news first reported by The Athletic.

Hayes, 24, joined the Lakers last summer after spending his first four seasons in New Orleans, signing a two-year deal with a player option in the second year. He was the eighth overall pick in 2019 and averaged 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 70 games last season.

The Lakers discussed trading Russell with several teams last offseason, aiming to upgrade the point guard position in part due to Russell’s struggles in the 2023 Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets.

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After selecting Dalton Kinesht with the 17th pick and Bronny James with the 55th pick this week, Los Angeles still has the potential to trade two future first-round picks, which, combined with an expiring contract the size of Russell’s, could lead to a new-look Lakers lineup.

The Lakers replaced Darvin Ham — with whom Russell struggled to get along at times — with Redick as head coach since the season ended with another playoff loss to Denver.

Redick, one of the best three-point shooters of his career, spoke about his desire to get more three-pointers across the roster for next season in his introductory press conference. It stands to reason that he would value the skill set of Russell, who broke the Lakers’ single-season record for three-pointers made last season with 226.

Russell’s plan to join was first reported by Swish Cultures.

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