The Brooklyn Nets are viewed as the likely landing spot for Kyrie Irving in free agency. It remains to be seen if Kevin Durant would end up coming with him, but regardless, if Irving does head to Brooklyn, major questions exist about what the future would hold for the team’s current All-Star guard, D’Angelo Russell.
While Russell is on the open market this summer, he is a restricted free agent, and it’s unclear if the Nets would try to keep him in the event Irving comes on board or renounce his rights and let him become an unrestricted free agent. Should that happen, a new report indicates that Russell wouldn’t be opposed to returning to the team that drafted him and, ultimately, traded him to Brooklyn.
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report wrote about what Russell’s summer could entail, and mentioned the Los Angeles Lakers as a potential landing spot. Despite the messy breakup between team and player a few years back, the absence of a certain former executive who loves to tweet may help the Lakers if they wanted to bring Russell on board.
“Russell’s breakup with the Lakers wasn’t pretty, but it’s difficult to hold grudges in this league,” Pincus wrote. “With Johnson gone, some close to Russell have indicated he may be open to the idea if Brooklyn isn’t in the picture.”
Russell was traded back in 2017 in a deal that served two purposes: Free up cap space to potentially bring a pair of superstars on board, and clear a path so prized draft pick Lonzo Ball could start right away. It was a deal that made sense, but in the aftermath, Russell admitted he was put off by some criticism Johnson levied his way regarding his leadership abilities.
“D’Angelo is an excellent player, he has the talent to be an All-Star,” Johnson said, via Silver Screen and Roll. “We want to thank him for what he did for us, but what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better, and also that players want to play with.”
It was extremely strange that Johnson felt the need to throw Russell under the bus like this after he was traded, especially because Russell had just finished his second year in the league and was 21 years old. But now, Johnson is gone, and if this would lead to interest on his end, Los Angeles would be a great situation for Russell. The team needs a guard and a perimeter scoring threat alongside James and Anthony Davis, which Russell would provide in droves.