Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on Pursuit of D'Angelo Russell, Kawhi Leonard & More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

Brooklyn Nets' D'Angelo Russell in action during the second half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday, April 15, 2019, in Philadelphia. 76ers won 145-123. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers are all-in on maximizing their window with LeBron James. If this wasn't evident when they first signed him last offseason, it became clear when they traded for Anthony Davis this offseason.

The big question for the Lakers now is how they can further improve their roster in free agency. They have holes to fill after trading the likes of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram in order to acquire Davis. They would presumably like to add a third star player to the roster as well.

Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell currently appears to be at the top of the Lakers' wish list. According to Fred Roggin of LA AM 570, Los Angeles is set to meet with him:

Fred Roggin @FredNBCLA

According to sources.. #Lakers set meeting with D’Angelo Russell. Club working towards setting meetings with defensive specialist and a lights out shooter also has interest. To be continued....

Russell makes sense for a couple of reasons. He can fill the void at point guard left by Ball, and he can add a bit of three-point shooting to the offensive end of the court—he made 36.8 percent of his attempts last season—something the Lakers desperately need around James and Davis.

There's a level of familiarity with Russell too, as he was drafted by the Lakers back in 2015.

Los Angeles could also be in the mix for reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Though he appears to be a long shot—at least a longer shot than Russell—for the Lakers, they do believe they can be a player for his services, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times:

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

The Lakers have believed for weeks -- even before they acquired Anthony Davis -- that they would factor into the Kawhi Leonard chase. This has been widely billed as a two-team race between the Clippers and Toronto, but the Lakers' chance to hush their skeptics is fast approaching

As Stein pointed out, it's long felt like Leonard's decision will come down to joining the Los Angeles Clippers or returning to the Toronto Raptors. However, the idea of playing alongside James and Davis would be attractive to almost any player.

If Leonard did join the Lakers? Los Angeles would almost certainly become favorites in the Western Conference.

Of course, the Lakers will need to add some role players—and in particular, shooters—to the mix, even if they do land a player like Russell or Leonard. According to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, they could consider adding some former James' teammates to fill this need.

Haynes recently mentioned both Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith as possible Lakers targets.

"It is my belief that he will end up with the Lakers," Haynes said of Smith.

The biggest obstacle for Los Angeles ahead of free agency is clearing enough cap room to fill out their roster as desired. According to The Athletic's Bill Oram, though, the Lakers don't believe that will be an issue.

"Sources said the Lakers remain confident they can get close enough to the roughly $32 million needed to sign a player like [Kyrie] Irving or Kemba Walker to a max deal—by dumping the contracts of Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones—if they get a commitment from a top-tier player," Oram wrote.

The Lakers will likely have to get a little creative in order to make all of the moves they want this offseason, but there's a strong chance that the NBA's next superteam will be in Los Angeles.