2. D’Angelo Russell
The Lakers drafted Russell second overall in 2015, but he only lasted two seasons in LA before being traded. The franchise wanted off Timofey Mozgov’s contract and had no qualms about sending out D-Lo to do it. Russell became an All-Star in Brooklyn but bounced around the league before landing back in Los Angeles at last season’s trade deadline.
The Lakers were eager to dump Russell Westbrook and get back as much talent as possible. D-Lo is a skilled scorer and playmaker who struggles on the defensive end. The 27-year-old helped them reach the conference finals last season, but he knows his D must improve if wants to stick with the Lakers.
The two sides agreed to a two-year $36 million contract in the offseason with year two being a player option. His deal is structured to be a trade chip at the deadline. Russell will get hot and win the Lakers some games, but his defense will render him virtually unplayable in others.
The Los Angeles Lakers made the deal because they did not want to let a talented former All-Star depart with zero return, but they will regret the signing if they cannot find a new home for him before the trade deadline. If D-Lo costs them a few games along the way, the second-guessing could set in sooner.