LOS ANGELES (CBS)- The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the more intriguing teams in the NBA heading into the league’s free agency period when it opens on Sunday at 6 pm EST/PST. After agreeing to a trade to acquire Anthony Davis, the team has about $23 million worth of cap space with the ability to open more if they trade some of the young players they have left. However, a recent report suggests they may not need to open max salary cap space in order to get their top target.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers are very interested in bringing guard D’Angelo Russell back to Southern California. In a SportsCenter appearance on Wednesday, Wojnarowski said that the team has some options but that “Russell is at the top of that list”. Other reports have confirmed that the team has set up a meeting with the guard once the free agency period opens.
It is a bit of an ironic twist of fate for the Lakers who traded Russell to Brooklyn two years ago in a package with Timofey Mozgov in exchange for center Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the 2017 Draft. That pick became Kyle Kuzma, who the Lakers now see as an integral part of the team alongside James and Davis. After two years in Brooklyn, they appear to believe that Russell could be a good fit on the roster once again.
The 23-year-old guard is coming off the best season of his young career, earning his first All-Star berth, while averaging 21 points and seven assists per game and showing the skills that made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 Draft. He is a restricted free agent which means the Nets do have the right to match any contract that he is offered by another team. But, with Brooklyn being the reported landing spot for Kyrie Irving, the Lakers are hoping that the Nets see Russell as having too similar of a skill set to Irving and will allow him to walk.