D'Angelo Russell trade, Lonzo Ball
Feb 23, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Lonzo Ball (2) celebrates with UCLA Bruins forward Ike Anigbogu (13) during the first half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Wells-Fargo Arena. USA TODAY Sports / Joe Camporeale

D'Angelo Russell lost his starting role during the 129-101 defeat to the Denver Nuggets on Monday evening, fuelling speculation that the Los Angeles Lakers could look to trade the second-year point guard during the offseason. According to several insiders, the Lakers could go that route if they're able to draft either Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz during the 2017 NBA Draft, provided they hold onto their top-3 protected first-round pick.

On Tuesday, NBA front office insider Amin Elhassan told ESPN LA Radio that the Lakers could be forced to re-build the roster around Ball during the offseason. "Drafting (Lonzo) Ball opens the door for someone to find a new home. Let's be honest on that one. There aren't going to be so many guards (D'Angelo Russell, Lonzo Ball and Jordan Clarkson) on the same roster. There are going to be some casualties," Elhassan said, while echoing the sentiments of fellow panellists that a D'Angelo Russell trade can't be ruled out.

Earlier this month, insider Stephen A Smith told ESPN First Take that he "doesn't see D'Angelo Russell as part of the Lakers' long term plans" just days before Fox Sports insider Colin Cowherd reported the same on The Herd. Several beat writers covering the Lakers are convinced that president Magic Johnson would replace Russell with Ball, if Los Angeles manages to draft the UCLA point guard. There's another theory that the Lakers would trade the pick if they fail to land either Ball or Fultz.

Could D'Angleo Russell move to shooting guard?

If the Lakers mange to draft either Ball or Fultz, the top point guard prospects in the 2017 NBA Draft, there's also the possibility that D'Angelo Russell moves to the shooting guard position. Several analysts believe that Russell could thrive in the two-guard role due to his off-ball skills and ability to catch-and-shoot.

In fact, Russell discussed his potential new role after surrendering primary ball-handling duties to Jordan Clarkson on Monday. “If I got the opportunity to play with him (Clarkson) now I would rather him have the ball in his hands and me play off the ball. Usually when we play in the previous times, it’s been me having the ball, him being a shooting guard off the ball. I want to see how if we’re switched around how that goes," Russell said after Monday's loss, via The Los Angeles Times.

D’Angelo Russell trade: Lakers have a big decision to make

Clarkson, the third-year guard, is expected to continue in his new role as the starting point guard for the remainder of the season. With 15 games left in the 82-game season, Lakers coach Luke Walton is hoping to try out various lineups as the new front office, led by Johnson, braces for a busy offseason that could see a lot of chopping and changing ahead of the 2017-18 season. With the Lakers set to miss the postseason for a four consecutive year, a first in the franchise's history, Johnson & Co. will have their work cut out this summer.

When the Lakers drafted Russell in 2015, former general manager Mitch Kupchak said that the team wanted to form a long-term backcourt duo of Russell and Clarkson. And while Russell and Clarkson were the starting backcourt for most of the 2015-16 season, the new coaching staff led by Luke Walton isn't convinced that the duo can play together. “It hasn’t been great, for whatever reason. It’s obviously another option that’s been discussed. We’re just not there yet," Walton said when asked about the tandem of Russell and Clarkson.

D'Angelo Russell is averaging 15.1 points, 4.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game in his second season. Many general managers believe Russell is a future All-Star calibre point guard. Though Russell's trade value isn't as high as some of his other peers, the Lakers could expect to get a good return for the 21-year-old.