D’Angelo Russell plans to exercise option and return to the Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell plans to opt out of the final year of his $18.7 million contract, he told ESPN a day before the decision deadline.

Russell, 28, is coming off a strong season for Los Angeles thanks to a second-half surge. He finished his ninth season with averages of 18.0 points on 45.6% shooting (41.5% from three-point range), 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds.

Russell, who was at the center of trade negotiations last season, made it clear that he intends to stay in Los Angeles and play for new Lakers coach JJ Redick.

“I love what JJ does and I really see myself thriving under his direction to help win at a high level,” Russell told ESPN on Friday night.

Jaxson Hayes is also likely to opt out of the final year of his contract, a source familiar with the center’s intentions told ESPN, confirming the news first reported by The Athletic.

Hayes, 24, joined the Lakers last summer after playing his first four seasons in New Orleans, signing a two-year deal with a player option for the second year. The eighth overall pick in the 2019 draft averaged 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 70 games last season.

The Lakers discussed a Russell trade with several teams last season, looking to upgrade the point guard position in part because of Russell’s struggles in the 2023 Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets.

After selecting Dalton Knecht with the 17th pick and Bronny James with the 55th pick this week, Los Angeles still has the ability to trade two future first-round picks, which, coupled with an expiring contract in Russell’s size, could lead to a revamped lineup for the Lakers.

The Lakers replaced Darvin Ham (with whom Russell had difficulty getting along at times) with Redick as head coach since the season ended with another playoff loss to Denver.

Redick, an elite 3-point shooter during his playing career, spoke about his desire to have more 3-pointers throughout the roster for next season in his introductory press conference. It’s only fitting that he values ​​the skills of Russell, who broke the Lakers’ single-season three-point record last season with 226.

Russell’s plan to participate was first reported by Swish Cultures.

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