Russell says he intends to opt in, stay with Lakers

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

Russell, 28, is coming off a strong season for L.A. thanks to a second-half surge. He finished his ninth season with averages of 18.0 points on 45.6% shooting (41.5% from 3), 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds.

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

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

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 drafting Dalton Knecht with the No. 17 pick and Bronny James with the No. 55 pick this week, L.A. still has the ability to trade two future first-round picks, which, paired with an expiring contract the size of Russell’s, could lead to a new-look lineup for the Lakers.

The Lakers replaced Darvin Ham — whom Russell struggled to see eye-to-eye with at times — with Redick at head coach since the season ended with another playoff loss to Denver.

Redick, an elite 3-point shooter in his own right during his playing career, spoke about his desire for more 3s across the roster for next season at his introductory news conference. It stands to reason he would value the skill set of Russell, who broke the Lakers’ single-season 3-pointers made record last season with 226.

News of Russell’s plan to opt in was first reported by Swish Cultures.

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