NBA Rumors: D'Angelo Russell played himself into a contract extension with Lakers?

Has D'Angelo Russell played his way into a potential contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers?
Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles Lakers
Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles Lakers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

NBA Rumors: Has D'Angelo Russell played well enough where he deserves a contract extension from the Los Angeles Lakers?

With just a handful of games left in the regular season, there's no question that the Los Angeles Lakers have had somewhat of an underwhelming year. However, that can't entirely be said about D'Angelo Russell. After an up-and-down inconsistent start to the season for Russell, he's played really great basketball over the last three months of the season. Since January 11, Russell has helped the Lakers make a strong push toward the playoffs.

In the last 33 games, Russell is averaging 22 points, seven assists, and three rebounds per game on 46 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent shooting from 3-point range. Even accounting for his slow start to the season, Russell is in the midst of arguably the most efficient season of his career. And with a player option heading into the offseason, this emergence from Russell couldn't be happening at a better time.

Under the expectation that the Lakers are going to make some big move during the offseason, which could or could not include Russell, there's a clear uncertainty when it comes to his future with the team. If it were up to him, though, Russell would be back with the Lakers next season, ideally on a contract extension.

Will D'Angelo Russell and the Los Angeles Lakers' futures intersect?

Russell can opt out of the final year of his contract and choose to test free agency in an attempt to sign a long-term deal. However, if he were to do that, there's no guarantee the Lakers would bring him back. At the same time, if Russell does opt into the final year of his contract, there's also no guarantee that the Lakers won't trade him this summer. In short, there are plenty of moving parts that will end up dictating whether Russell is a Laker next season or not.

But, make no mistake, his improved play this season will certainly give the Lakes something else to think about heading into the summer. The Lakers may have their eyes on making a move for another All-Star difference-maker but it's also hard to ignore how good Russell has been for the team down the stretch.

Both the Lakers and Russell have big decisions to make this offseason. Russell wants to be with the Lakers, it seems. The question is, do the Lakers want to keep Russell in the fold long-term?

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