The development of Los Angeles Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell has been slow and in two seasons, he is yet to live up to the expectations. If this continues, he may be on the move soon and a team that may trade for him is the Philadelphia 76ers.
So far, Russell’s NBA career is full of ups and downs. There were nights when it seemed like the Lakers found their new franchise star. Two weeks ago in a loss to the reigning NBA champions Cleveland Cavaliers, he exploded for a career-best 40 points.
Unfortunately, there were also games when Russell struggled to find his rhythm. With the Lakers having a new president of basketball operations (Earvin “Magic” Johnson) and general manager (Rob Pelinka), roster changes are inevitable. If Russell fails to prove that he is worth keeping, he could be included in an NBA trade this off-season.
The Sixer Sense suggested that the 76ers should try to go for Russell once the Lakers place him on the trade market. This was not the first time Russell was linked to the 76ers. Ahead of the 2016-2017 NBA season, the former Ohio State Buckeye heading to Philadelphia was seen as a possibility.
There were a few significant reasons mentioned why a Russell trade may work for the 76ers. One of them is his familiarity with the team’s two promising big men, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. All three of them played for Montverde Academy.
It was stated that Russell spent one season with Embiid at Montverde but the latter left because he failed to get playing time. This still gave them a chance to work with one another.
Russell also had an opportunity to team up with Simmons. They were together at Montverde for two seasons and their duo led the Eagles to two national titles.
The 76ers completing a trade for Russell gives them a young Big Three. Embiid, Simmons, and Russell can help Philly end the rebuilding process sooner than expected. Aside from this, the team needs a playmaker and the 21-year-old might be the answer.
However, in some of the Lakers’ previous games, Russell showed that he fits well at the shooting guard position. Whatever his role will be in Philadelphia, he is likely going to be a good acquisition, especially on offense. This season, his scoring improved even if he is inconsistent. In 60 games (57 starts), Russell averaged 15.5 points, much better than his scoring output last season which was 13.2 points per contest.
Who should the Lakers target if the 76ers aim to trade for Russell? The man selected after him in the 2015 draft, center Jahlil Okafor.
Similar to Russell, this is not the first time Okafor was connected to the Lakers. His name has been dragged to the trade rumor mill numerous times and Los Angeles is always a potential destination for him.
Okafor will fill a need for the Lakers and that is a talented player at the No. 5 position. The Sixer Sense said in its report that Johnson is a fan of the 21-year-old and this may be enough for the purple and gold franchise to chase him in the off-season.
The Lakers already have centers in Ivica Zubac, Timofey Mozgov, Tarik Black, and at times Thomas Robinson. They are all decent defenders but none of them has the potential or can score like Okafor. As of this moment, the closest is Zubac, who is a rookie and showed flashes of greatness in a few outings this season.
A Lakers trade involving Russell remains a probability, with the franchise aiming to rebuild. For now, it is unknown where he ends up or if the organization wants to part ways with him.
[Featured Image by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]