ReGrade the trade: Lakers salvage LeBron era with addition of oft-discarded guard

Taking a look back at the trade that brought D'Angelo Russell to the Lakers.

D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers
D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages
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Regrading the trade

Returning to the City of Angels from Minnesota, D'Angelo Russell was thrust onto a team desperate for a playoff spot after starting the year with a terrible record. The Lakers, now knowing the error of their ways in giving away so much to get Russell Westbrook, were just hoping they got anything out of D'Lo so as not to waste the last years that LeBron James had in the NBA.

With their 2020 championship roster almost completely gone and Westbrook playing wildly inconsistent, LA was forced to retool and D'Angelo was simply the best option they had. Many were understandably skeptical of how much he would actually do for a team with so much pressure on them, but D'Lo has answered the call.

Yes, he had his moments of letdown in the 2023 playoffs, but by and large D'Angelo has provided a major lift for a Lakers team that badly needed a consistent scoring option with LeBron and AD off the floor. For a player that was cast away by the Nets, Warriors, and Timberwolves since leaving LA the first time, D'Lo has proven that he has unquestionable value as a veteran scorer.

As great of a player as Russell Westbrook is, he was simply not a good fit on this Lakers team. LA needed to move him by any means possible, and the reality is that there were far worse outcomes than this one. A nightmare scenario would have been Pelinka and company failing to find any suitors and letting him walk for nothing last summer.

Instead, the Lakers pulled off this three-team trade that essentially catapulted them to Western Conference contender status immediately. They went from likely to miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season to the Western Conference Finals in a matter of weeks, and it was this deal that has LA on the verge of sneaking into the top six in the West as we speak. With all that considered, we can consider this trade a rousing success.

Grade: A