The Los Angeles Lakers are rumoured to have made one of their young guns available in the trade season.
The Lakers are not expected to be heavily linked in trade talks this season, with the team heading down the path of rebuilding for the future amid another dismal campaign in the 2015-2016 NBA season. If the Lakers were to be involved in such trade talks, it would probably be for the interest of sending expiring contracts and clearing cap room to have flexibility in this summer’s free agency.
"I suspect that there will be more activity moving forward," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told Chris McGee of Time Warner Cable Sportsnet. "But I wouldn't suspect a blockbuster deal."
While the Lakers would probably try to deal the likes of Roy Hibbert and Nick Young before the deadline, it came as a surprise when Brian Geltzeiler of Hoops Critic revealed that the 16-time NBA champions have made rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell available on the trading block.
In taking to people around the league on who has been made available in trade talks a very surprising name has come up: DeAngelo Russell
— Brian Geltzeiler (@hoopscritic) January 28, 2016
Trade rumours involving Russell may be too far-fetched as the Lakers view him, along with Jordan Clarkson, as one of the future stars who will take over LA once Kobe Bryant officially calls it quits at the end of the season. But if the Lakers really intend to deal away Russell, who has been spending time on the bench, the New York Knicks is one possible landing spot for the 2015 No. 2 overall draft pick.
The Knicks have been all around the rumour mill as they continue to address their point guard issues. If the Lakers are really gauging interest for their rookie, the Knicks could make a run for Russell, who seems to fit the mold the PG New York is looking for.
Russell’s production is far from what scouts projected him to have, with averages of 12.0 points and 3.3 assists per game on 41.4 percent shooting from the field. Russell’s limited playing time under Lakers coach Byron Scott is a huge factor for his lackluster rookie season, but his potential still stands out from most of the NBA youngsters.
One trade scenario the Lakers could consider if Russell is available is packaging him along with Nick Young and Roy Hibbert’s expiring contract. However, according to Jake Fischer of SI Now, league sources have conferred that the Lakers have “definitely not” made Russell available.
Conferred w/ several league sources: Lakers have "definitely not" made DeAngelo Russell available, view he and Clarkson backcourt of future.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) January 28, 2016
According to Josh Hill of Sports Illustrated’s Fansided, putting Russell on the trading block could just be a way for the Lakers to test the water for interesting deals.
“This doesn’t mean that the Lakers are going to trade Russell, as they might simply be putting feelers out to see if anyone will bite and give them an offer they can’t refuse,” Hill wrote. “That being said, the fact that he’s not an untouchable cornerstone of the future is a little notable here and if he’s not being actively shopped ahead of the deadline, this isn’t something that can make Lakers fans confident he’s going to be in the long term plans.”
It would be hard to imagine that the Lakers would quickly blow out their roster full of young talents, who could play a big role in attracting top free agents in the market. However, Russell playing alongside Kristaps Porzingis is an opportunity too enticing for basketball fans to pass on.