Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell will be back with the team, at least for the time being. It was reported Monday afternoon in Manila, strangely during wee hours in the US, that he has opted in on his player option for 2024-25.

Perhaps as designed, the $18.7 million salary posts a flexible, trade-friendly amount that keeps plenty of options for both parties. He is in an expiring contract, an attractive chip in trade talks, making it perfect for the Lakers who are always looking to add a big name. It’s also no secret how many times he has gone in and out of the trade block. Simply put, there’s no telling if Russell will be wearing the Purple and Gold on opening night. 

The team and fans alike also remain lukewarm with Russell due to his tendency to enter a long slump. He had a rough first few months in 2023-24 before going hot in mid January until regular season’s end, only to then struggle in the first round of the postseason:

First 34 games of 2023-24: 14.6 PPG, 38.3 3P%

Next 42 games of 2023-24: 20.8 PPG, 43.0 3P%

First three games 1st rd vs. DEN (all losses): 12.0 PPG, 32.6 FG%, 20.8 3P%

He also had just 6.3 PPG in the 4-0 loss to DEN in the 2023 playoffs.

You’ve seen the D’Lo meme where’s “getting some shots up.”


Since the off-season is where hopes are high, though, the talk for now can be about the veteran sharpshooter being under a different system and tutelage. He supposedly had a love-hate relationship with recently fired HC Darvin Ham, and all that, coupled with the non-stop trade talks, may have stunted his growth in LA.

What’s commendable is despite all that, D’Lo was still able to have 18.0 points and 6.3 assists per game, as well as a career-high 41.5% three-point percentage in the 2023-24 campaign. Imagine how much better it would’ve been if there wasn’t that much drama.

Don’t forget that he also had to share the ball with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Austin Reaves.

Nevertheless, with new Lakers coach JJ Redick, Russell will be paired with a fellow sniper and certified Xs and Os aficionado that can cater to what he’s comfortable with, which should be intriguing. 

The two once had a feisty encounter on the court as players, but has since become friendly, starting when Russell went on Redick’s The Old Man the three podcast:

Russell now has 1.5 seasons under his belt playing alongside his key teammates, namely James, Davis, Reaves, and Rui Hachimura. We should see the growing familiarity if he really ends up staying in Tinseltown, especially as the starting point guard. 

Further, we’ll see how well he can showcase his style and fit with rookies such as 2024 17th pick Dalton Knecht and 55th pick Bronny James. It’s a list that should grow come free agency.