D’Angelo Russell was the main piece that came back to the Lakers in return for Russell Westbrook at the deadline. While Russell has his flaws and we were not shy to point them out here at Lake Show Life, he was still an upgrade over Westbrook.
Russell is probably overpaid compared to his standing in the league among his peers and committing a new long-term deal to him might seem like a risk. There are reasons to be wary but this is a classic example of NBA calculus going to work.
The Lakers would rather (and are justified in doing so) bring back Russell using his Bird Rights rather than lose the asset for nothing. Even if Russell does not pan out in LA, the team can eventually use that asset in some regard for something in the future.
The important thing here is not giving Russell too large of a contract. Russell is not a max player, even if he thinks he might be. If the Lakers sign Russell to a max deal then it is going to be impossible to move off of.
There are two routes here. The Lakers can try to agree to a short-term contract that pays him max money, allowing the team to potentially move him as an expiring during the 2024 summer if needed. Or, the team can lock him down for four years at a smaller rate. Something around Jalen Brunson’s deal is fair.
Regardless, Russell has proven that he should be brought back both with his play on the court and because of the logistics around the situation.