After suffering a huge disappointment in LeBron James’ first year wearing the Purple and Gold, the Los Angeles Lakers became more aggressive in upgrading their roster in the 2019 NBA offseason. After the successful acquisition of All-Star center Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers turned their attention on signing a big name in the 2019 NBA free agency. According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, one of the NBA superstars that the Lakers considered signing last summer was D’Angelo Russell of the Golden State Warriors.
When the 2019 NBA free agency officially started, Slater revealed that the Lakers really explored the possibility of bringing back Russell in Los Angeles. Russell was very familiar with the Purple and Gold as they were the NBA team that selected him as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, though they were prepared to offer him a $100 million contract, the Lakers were unable to reunite with Russell as at that time, they were still waiting for Kawhi Leonard to make a decision.
“Russell only wanted serious bidders and, sources say, he had three: The Lakers — wouldn’t that have been quite the reunion? — nearing a potential $100 million offer but in limbo until Kawhi Leonard made his choice, the Wolves, up over $100 million but still needing to create cap room to get to his max, and the Warriors, offering the full max in a complicated sign-and-trade involving Durant,” Slater wrote, as quoted by Lakers Outsiders.
It would definitely be intriguing to know what could have happened if Russell and the Lakers agreed to a $100 million contract in the 2019 NBA free agency. Russell would have been an incredible addition to the Lakers’ team that already had James and Davis on their roster. Two years after parting ways with the Lakers, Russell has blossomed into an All-Star caliber talent. His potential arrival in Los Angeles would have given the Lakers a legitimate “Big Three.”
However, though Russell could have been the third superstar the Lakers have been looking for since acquiring Davis, giving him a $100 million contract would have affected the Lakers’ salary cap flexibility last summer. Had they pushed through with their plan to reunite with Russell, the Lakers wouldn’t have enough money to sign quality role players like Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, and JaVale McGee.
Despite only having James and Davis as their superstars, the Lakers are doing very well in the 2019-20 NBA season. As of now, the Lakers are on a five-game winning streak, sitting in the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference with a 22-3 record. Meanwhile, though he’s under contract with the Warriors until the 2022-23 NBA season, Russell is currently facing an uncertain future in Golden State. With the emergence of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in their backcourt, most people see the Warriors moving Russell before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline.