The Los Angeles Lakers appeared to have a change of heart.
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, the Lakers are no longer that high on a D’Angelo Russell-Dejounte Murray swap. At this point, such a deal is “unrealistic,” Stein reported.
“The Lakers were initially said to be willing to package Russell with a first-round pick in 2029 and a first-round pick swap in exchange for Murray — with Austin Reaves completely off limits. That pursuit appears to have been dialed back some with Russell playing so well,” Stein wrote in his January 28 substack newsletter.
Russell, whose value was virtually zero during the previous Lakers-Hawks talks, has dramatically shifted the narrative.
The resurgent Lakers have won five of their last eight games, in no small part because of Russell’s strong play. Since his return to the starting lineup eight games ago, Russell is averaging 27.5 points and 6.4 assists per game while shooting 52.3% percent from the field and 54.2% from the 3-point line.
Previously, the Hawks wanted a third team to absorb the 27-year-old Russell who has an $18.6 million player option for next season. Things have changed quickly with Russell finally unleashing his “superpower” that helped the Lakers turn their fortunes around.
Fresh off a 28-point and 5-assist performance in the Lakers’ 145-144 double overtime win over the Golden State Warriors, Russell hopes to keep the momentum going against the Houston Rockets this Monday, January 29. A third straight win will catapult the Lakers to two games above .500.
Lakers Willing to Move Austin Reaves for Lauri Markannen
The Lakers have kept Austin Reaves off limits in the previous Murray trade talks despite the Hawks’ interest. He is virtually untouchable. And Reaves’ status could only change if the Lakers have a deal that is too good to pass up.
“The longer answer is more nuanced,” The Athletic’s Jovan Buha wrote on January 26. “There are players the Lakers would include him in deals to acquire. If they could add a bona fide third star to complement [Lebron] James and [Anthony] Davis – Utah All-Star Lauri Markannen, for example – or multiple high-level starters in a bigger trade, they would consider moving Reaves.”
Russell’s resurgence over his last eight games has relegated Reaves to the Lakers’ fourth-best player. Reaves is averaging 15.1 points, 5.2 assists and 4.1 rebounds on a 49/34/88 shooting split.
Kyle Lowry Emerges as Potential Buyout Signing
If the Lakers stand pat, they can save up their 2029 first-round pick and can have up to 3 first-round picks in the offseason to use for a major trade. Their pathway then is via the buyout market to improve on the margins.
Recently traded Kyle Lowry is a top candidate to give the Lakers backcourt depth.
“According to team and league sources, Kyle Lowry, who could be available if he’s bought out by Charlotte after being traded there from Miami this week, is one name to watch for the Lakers,” Buha added.
The Heat swapped Lowry with Terry Rozier plus a lottery-protected first-round pick. But Hornets general manager and former Laker Mitch Kupchak said Lowry will not suit up with them as they decide on his future.
Lowry is averaging 8.2 points, 4.0 assists, and 3.5 rebounds this season. He is also shooting 38.5% from downtown, the fifth-highest mark of his career, which includes winning a championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019.
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