Los Angeles Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell remains unfazed by the ongoing trade rumors swirling around him.
“I can’t control that my contract makes sense to be traded, so, just play,” Russell stated on Monday night, as reported by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
The 27-year-old inked a lucrative two-year, $36 million deal with Los Angeles in 2023, with a player option valued at approximately $18.6 million for the 2024-25 season.
Speculations have linked Russell to various trade discussions, including talks with teams like the Atlanta Hawks, ahead of the looming Feb. 8 deadline, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
Despite committing to his contract, Russell also waived his implied no-trade clause. When questioned about this decision, he emphasized his belief in a prosperous future with the Lakers.
“I just thought it made sense. … I know what the requirements are to be successful here,” Russell explained, per McMenamin.
While encountering inconsistency in the initial months of the season, the former No. 2 overall draft pick has thrived since reclaiming his spot in the starting lineup on Jan. 13.
In his first 12 games back, he averaged an impressive 23.7 points and 6.6 assists per game, shooting at 46.5 percent from the field and sinking 47.1 percent of his three-point attempts before Monday night’s action.
The Lakers tallied a 7-5 record during this period and have now secured victories in five of their last seven games, including a 124-118 win against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday. Russell’s improved accuracy from long range has notably aided the team, which previously struggled to create spacing around stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Before Russell’s reinstatement to the starting lineup, the Lakers ranked ninth-worst in the league in three-point shooting percentage (as per NBA.com). However, they’ve ascended to the fourth spot with a 39.9 percent conversion rate since his return.
While Russell isn’t solely credited for this turnaround, his scorching shooting undoubtedly serves as a primary catalyst.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding his future with the team, Russell’s elevated performance may convince the Lakers to retain him beyond the trade deadline.