The Dallas Mavericks came into town with a returning Luka Doncic and the Los Angeles Lakers sent them back to their hotel rooms unhappy. A reeling Lakers team is finally starting to pick up some momentum, highlighted by the team's 127-110 win over the Mavs. This wasn't just a win, it was a dominant win in which the Lakers controlled the second half.
The biggest standout of the game was D'Angelo Russell, who was recently put back into the starting lineup after Darvin Ham moved him to the bench. Russell led the team in scoring with 29 points on 11-20 shooting while making 5-7 attempts from beyond the arc. The starting point guard also picked up four rebounds and three assists while committing only one turnover.
This was a statement game for Russell, who has been playing great since being put back into the starting lineup. Trade rumors around Russell have really started to swirl and this has prompted Russell to step his game up. For many Lakers fans, this is a sign that Russell will earn his place with the team past the deadline.
But in fact, these strong performances are doing the opposite. As great as the Lakers are with him playing this way right now, there is no guarantee that Russell will still be on the team in a month.
D'Angelo Russell is increasing his trade value, making a Lakers trade more likely
It is important in times like this to not get caught up in the moment. Russell just turned in a great game, has been playing well over the last several, and has convinced many fans that he should stay for the rest of the reason.
Fans need to remember that this isn't the first time that Russell has had an outburst like this because this is exactly the kind of player that he is. He is undoubtedly talented and when everything is going right for Russell it is really fun to watch and impossible to trade.
The problem is that when things aren't going right it gets bad, quickly. Russell has already proven this season that he is willing to check out defensively and if he is not getting to play exactly how he wants, then the team will suffer.
That is the entire reason why Russell reportedly isn't seen as a "valuable" trade chip by other teams. Other teams know that Russell tends to yo-yo and that is the entire reason why the Lakers would theoretically trade him in the first place.
As good as Russell looks when it is all going right, his style of play and inconsistency just does not lend itself to winning basketball in the playoffs. There is a reason why another playoff team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, essentially gave him away last year at the deadline.
So when Russell has a big game like he did on Wednesday night fans shouldn't be thinking that it secured his spot on the roster for the rest of the season because that is not the case at all. If anything, the Lakers are just hoping that Russell can string together more performances like this and convince another team to take on Russell, allowing the Lakers to make an upgrade in the process.
Nothing is guaranteed in the NBA and there definitely is a world in which Russell finishes out the season in LA. But it won't be because of games like Wednesday's. It will be because nobody else wants him.