D’Angelo Russell plans to exercise his option and return to the Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell intends to opt for a $18.7 million extension for the final year of his contract, he told ESPN one day before the decision deadline.

The 28-year-old Russell is coming off a strong season with Los Angeles thanks to his second-half breakthrough. He finished his ninth season averaging 18.0 points on 45.6% shooting (41.5% from 3), 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds.

Russell, who found himself at the center of trade talks last season, made it clear that he intends to stay in Los Angeles and play under new Lakers coach JJ Redick.

“I love what JJ is all about and I see myself thriving under him to help win at a high level,” Russell told ESPN on Friday night.

Jackson Hayes will also likely opt to continue the final year of his contract, a source familiar with the center’s intentions told ESPN, confirming news first reported by The Athletic.

Hayes, 24, joined the Lakers last summer after spending his first four seasons in New Orleans, signing a two-year contract with a player option in the second year. The eighth overall pick in 2019, he averaged 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 70 games last season.

The Lakers discussed trading Russell with several teams last offseason, partly to upgrade the point guard position because of Russell’s struggles in the 2023 Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets.

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After selecting Dalton Knecht with the 17th pick and Bronny James with the 55th pick this week, Los Angeles still has the ability to trade two future first-round picks, which, coupled with an expiring contract the size of Russell’s, could lead to a new-look lineup. For the Lakers team.

The Lakers replaced Darvin Ham — with whom Russell had difficulty getting along at times — with Braddick as head coach since the season ended with another playoff loss to Denver.

Redick, one of the best three-point shooters of his career, spoke about his desire to get more three-pointers across the roster for next season in his introductory press conference. It stands to reason that he would value the skill set of Russell, who broke the Lakers’ single-season record for three-pointers made last season with 226.

Russell’s plan to sign up was first reported by Swish Cultures.

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