The Los Angeles Lakers officially made the NBA Playoffs with a huge overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the play-in tournament. Now, the Lake Show will take on the two-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
This series it not only important on the macro level for the team’s ultimate goal but it is also important on the individual level for several players on the Lakers. Certain players are not only looking for the team to advance but are looking to lock in future jobs in LA as well.
A great showing in the playoffs can wash away any doubt from the regular season and there are certain Lakers who need just that. And just for clarity’s sake, we are not including the likes of Tristan Thompson and Shaquille Harrison, who were literally just signed for depth.
3 Lakers playing for their jobs in the NBA Playoffs:
3. D’Angelo Russell
This one is controversial, but let me explain.
Trading for D’Angelo Russell was the best thing that the Lakers could have done this season. It didn’t just bring Russell in but it brought in a younger and more talented core while also getting Russell Westbrook off the team.
While Russell has had really great moments with the purple and gold, it would be biased to say that he does not have noticeable holes in his game. There is a lot to left to be desired with his defensive play and he has had a tendency in his career to play hero ball.
All that being said, Russell is not going to be a cheap player this upcoming offseason and if he comes out and lays an egg against Memphis then it is going to be much easier to see the Lakers question whether or not the team should spend $25-30 million a year on him.
Granted, it is traditionally better to bite the bullet and re-sign him rather than lose the asset but that could be a long, expensive contract that no other team wants to take on in the future.
The fact that Russell only played 24 minutes in the play-in game against Minnesota should tell you that there is at least something here of note.