Lakers News: Latest on D'Angelo Russell, Brook Lopez and More

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2019

Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) reacts during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in New York.(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

After kicking off the NBA season with a splashy acquisition of Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers are merely in the beginning stages of filling out their 2019-20 roster.

But they're not looking at role players; they're searching for star power.

Depending on the official details of the Davis trade, Los Angeles will basically create enough cap space to offer a maximum contract. That process will ensure the Lakers are able to pursue top free agents Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving.

Beyond the All-Pro targets, though, the organization is connected to several more high-profile names.

Two years ago, the Lakers shipped D'Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a forward-looking trade to shed Timofey Mozgov's contract and create cap space for July 2019.

Perhaps the team ultimately dealt Russell to sign him anyway.

Hoop Central @TheHoopCentral

I am all for D’Lo back with the Lakers, such a crazy story. Lakers draft him, give up on him way too early and trade him to BKN. Absolutely balls out with BKN, first time All-Star and leads them to the playoffs. BKN decides to sign Kyrie and renounce Russell, D’Lo signs with La.

Arye Abraham reported the Lakers have strong interest in the All-Star guard and plan to have a meeting with him.

Since Russell is a restricted free agent, Brooklyn will have the opportunity to match any offer sheet. However, the Nets' pursuit of Irving is a one-or-the-other proposition. Ian Begley of SNY noted it's "highly unlikely" Russell stays if Irving signs.

Plus, to create the cap space necessary for two max contracts, Brooklyn would need to renounce its rights to Russell. He would then become an unrestricted free agent.

And that's where it could get fascinating.

"Russell's breakup with the Lakers wasn't pretty, but it's difficult to hold grudges in this league," B/R's Eric Pincus said. "With [Magic] Johnson gone, some close to Russell have indicated he may be open to the idea if Brooklyn isn't in the picture."

How much money Russell will command in free agency is the key question that can't be answered quite yet.

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

While the Lakers can afford to offer a max deal to Russell, anything below that would provide a bit of much-desired flexibility. Los Angeles would use the savings to pursue valuable free agents before trying to find ring-chasers and minimum-contract options.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst (h/t Real GM) recently said he believes the Lakers are interested in Brook Lopezwho, incidentally, they added in the 2017 Russell tradeand DeAndre Jordan.

Lopez has reinvented himself as a floor-spacing center, something that allows him to coexist in a potential lineup alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. No matter whether Los Angeles adds Russell, Lopez should be a top target.

Jordan isn't a good fit stylistically, but his rebounding ability would be useful for a razor-thin bench if he's added inexpensively.

Whether the Lakers land a high-priority targetand at what pricewill determine how intently they chase these other options.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.