Lakers Trade Rumors: D'Angelo Russell Could Be Dealt for 2016 NBA Draft Pick

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2016

Apr 5, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell (1) dribbles against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

One year after drafting D'Angelo Russell with the second overall pick, the Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly willing to shop him in exchange for another high draft pick this year.  

During an appearance on SportsCenter (via CBS Sports' James Herbert), NBA draft analyst Chad Ford said the Lakers, who hold the No. 2 overall pick in June 23's draft, are looking at various scenarios to get another top-five selection:

They've brought in Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown, and while I still believe that it will be Ingram at No. 2, the Lakers have explored other options. And again I think the concern with Ingram is his lack of strength and how NBA-ready he's going to be because of that. I think more likely the Lakers are trying to pick up another pick in this draft in the top five and the guy that they have that they can shop is D'Angelo Russell, a guy who was their No. 2 pick in the draft last year but burned some bridges in the locker room.

Russell's standing with the Lakers has seemed tenuous for a long time. Former head coach Byron Scott almost went out of his way to criticize the former Ohio State star, telling reporters in February that Cleveland's Kyrie Irving was "just a little bit more mature" at the same age, per ESPN.com's Baxter Holmes

Things became more complicated between Russell and the Lakers in March when Holmes and Marc Stein reported for ESPN.com that "some teammates' trust in Russell is eroding after a video surfaced in the past week that shows Russell recording a private conversation between himself and teammate Nick Young. Young does not appear to realize he is being taped."

Even though Russell had an erratic debut season, he did flash potential with an average of 13.2 points, 3.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 80 games. 

The Lakers could have problems getting the kind of value they want for Russell in a potential trade because teams know there could be a push from his current teammates to move him because of the Young situation. Plus, he wasn't so good that other teams will be in a rush to give up a top-five pick for him. 

A better scenario for the Lakers would be to start next season with Russell playing a more prominent role under new head coach Luke Walton. They need to hope Russell re-establishes some value he lost last year, and then they can decide if it's worth it to move him or use him as a building block. 

The Lakers won only 17 games last season, so they can't afford to start trading young assets unless they believe there is a better player they can get in this year's draft.