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#pounditFriday, April 12, 2024

Report: Lakers not willing to pay max to bring back 1 free agent

Rob Pelinka at a press conference

Jun 6, 2022; El Segundo, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka speaks before introducing head coach Darvin Ham at UCLA Health Training Center Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have no fewer than four key free agents this summer, but a decision may have already been made on one of them.

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported on Friday that Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell is eligible to sign a two-year, $67.5 million extension this offseason. However, the Lakers reportedly will not pursue a Russell extension at that max number. McMenamin adds that Russell’s market may otherwise be flat since many of the teams with that kind of cap space are still in rebuild mode.

The 27-year-old former All-Star Russell did not do himself any favors this postseason, especially during the Lakers’ season-ending sweep at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. Russell shot a miserable 32.3 percent from the floor in that series, got cooked up like dinner on the defensive end, and eventually got demoted in his final game of the season as a Laker. That has created real uncertainty over the future for Russell, who will become an unrestricted free agent if he is not extended by June 30.

At this point, it seems likely the Lakers will match any offer for restricted free agents Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, two extremely important players who each showed up in a major way during these playoffs. Dennis Schroder also surpassed expectations on his minimum contract and may have just earned himself a bigger payday from the Lakers. But the Lakers might be willing to let Russell walk if his price tag gets too rich, especially since they could have a far more ambitious plan at point guard.

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