The Los Angeles Lakers might be trying to part ways with starting point guard D’Angelo Russell, as reports indicate that the Lakers are attempting to dangle the former no. 2 overall pick in trade talks days before the June 22nd NBA Draft.

The rumor

NBA Draft expert Chad Ford of ESPN reports, per Rival GMs, that the Lakers are using Russell as trade bait to land another top-12 pick in this year’s draft. Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka are reportedly targeting Zach Collins and Luke Kennard, who both had terrific workout sessions last week.

Lonzo Ball’s impending arrival is viewed as another reason why the Lakers are attempting to shop Russell.

According to Ford, the Lakers have already settled on Ball at no. 2 following Paul George’s announcement that he’ll be leaving the Indiana Pacers next summer for the opportunity to play with the Lakers. Los Angeles is seriously considering taking Kansas Jayhawks small forward Josh Jackson with their lottery pick, but the anticipation of George’s homecoming compelled the Lakers to zero in on the pass-first point guard instead.

Russell, who averaged 15.6 points on 40.5 percent shooting last season, was expected to play the off-guard position in the event that the Lakers picked Ball. However, Ford’s latest report indicates that the Lakers aren’t 100 percent confident that Russell will thrive at the shooting guard spot.

What does it mean for Russell?

In an interview with Allen Silwa of ESPN 710, Ford clarified that the Lakers haven’t made any progress with their trade talks involving Russell. At this point, it’s uncertain whether the Lakers are simply gauging Russell’s trade value or if they are really looking to deal the former Ohio State Buckeyes standout.

However, Ford stressed that Russell’s current situation is something to be watched very closely in the lead up to the draft.

“I don't think that they have any deal, or necessarily that they'll pull the trigger, but that's been the exploratory guy that they're looking at to see whether they can get a pick in the right sort of range,” Ford said.

Potential suitors

The 21- year old Russell hasn’t been the game-changing player the Lakers expected him to be, but he did show flashes of his potential in some games. Porous defense and lack of leadership continue to be the biggest issues for the young playmaker, though it’s still too early in his career to label Russell a bust.

At 6-foot-5, Russell has the length to play at the shooting guard position, and, despite his flaws at this stage, Russell is expected to draw heavy interest from teams who possess mid to late lottery picks. The Dallas Mavericks, a ball club looking for a permanent fixture at the point guard spot, could be interested in trading their no. 9 pick for Russell, while the Detroit Pistons might be open to shopping their no.

12 pick as well.

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