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The Numbers Behind D’Angelo Russell’s Trade Back to the Lakers

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
In a deadline blockbuster, the Lakers sent Russell Westbrook to the Jazz and brought D’Angelo Russell back into the fold.

Sitting outside the playoff picture and with LeBron James on the books for only two more seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers desperately needed to improve their roster. After all, GM and VP of Basketball Operations Rob Pelinka said at the team’s Media Day before this season that they “are committed to doing everything [they] can to put the best team around LeBron as long as it’s a smart trade.”

On Wednesday, the Lakers traded Russell Westbrook and others for D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt in a three-team trade with the Timberwolves and Jazz.

D’Angelo Russell-Russell Westbrook Trade Details


  • G D’Angelo Russell
  • G Malik Beasley
  • F Jarred Vanderbilt


  • G Russell Westbrook
  • F Juan Toscano-Anderson
  • G Damian Jones
  • 2027 1st-round pick (Lakers)


  • G Mike Conley
  • G Nickeil Alexander-Walker
  • 2024 2nd-round pick
  • 2025 2nd-round pick
  • 2026 2nd-round pick

Talk about storylines galore. Let’s get right into it.

D’Angelo Russell

Russell, 26, was drafted second overall by the Lakers back in 2015. Drama unfolded between DLo and Nick Young, which ultimately led to the team trading him to Brooklyn in the summer of 2017. On his way out, then-president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said, “We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better and also [somebody] that players want to play with.”

In 2018-19, Russell became an All-Star for a revitalized Brooklyn team that made its first postseason appearance in four years. It was that following summer — that Russell-led team — that helped bring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn. A free agent at the time, the Nets pulled off a sign-and-trade with the Warriors in which he inked a four-year, $117 million deal. Since then, he’s turned into an NBA vagabond who only landed back with the Lakers.

  • 2017: traded to the Nets
  • 2019: traded to the Warriors
  • 2020: traded to the Timberwolves
  • 2023: traded to the Lakers

In a weird twist of fate, Russell returns to the purple and gold in a role where he’s viewed as one of the saving graces. In 2020, he told JJ Reddick and Tommy Alter that he took the Lakers trade personally.

“Only L.A. because Magic kicked me in my ass on the way out,” he siad. “I didn’t understand that. I was kind of young and naive to why and what was the point, but I mean, it is what it is.”

Russell’s averaging 18 points per game on 39% shooting from three, giving L.A. a much-needed scoring punch, point guard, and shooter. The Lakers only had two players shooting above 36% from deep (minimum: 3 attempts) before the trade. He may not last long there, though — Russell is on the final year of that four-year, $117 million deal, of which he’s owed $31.7 million in 2022-23.

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Malik Beasley

Beasley is a major upgrade at the SG position and is poised to start in the backcourt with Russell as soon as they’re eligible to play. The 26-year-old was a key piece in the Rudy Gobert trade between Minnesota and Utah, two seasons after signing a four-year, $60 million contract. He’s owed $15.5 million this season and he has a club option in the offseason, which means the Lakers can technically shed roughly $48 million in cap if they get rid of Russell and Beasley.

Jarred Vanderbilt

Like Beasley, Vanderbilt was part of Minnesota’s package to Utah in the Gobert trade. In 2021, he signed a three-year deal worth $13,122,000. He’s earning $4.3 million this year and $4.6 million next year — the eight-highest-paid player on the roster who takes up just 2.38% of the team’s cap.

Russell Westbrook

The Russell Westbrook x Lakers chapter is finally closed, and both sides might say it’s for the best. Westbrook is playing well as a sixth man this year, but the all-time triple-double leader was sort of rotting there — suddenly becoming the scapegoat for all their issues. He wasn’t a good fit as a downhill point guard who’s inefficient from three, particularly next to LeBron, who needs to be surrounded by shooters and unselfish guards.

That’s not who Russell ever was, and it finally came to a head. Hours leading up to the trade, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that he and head coach Darvin Ham got into a heated exchange in the game in which LeBron passed Kareem and set the all-time scoring record.

Enough was enough. The Lakers had been reportedly shopping him for quite a while — even before the season — but no team wanted to take on his contract. He signed a five-year, $206,794,070 supermax contract in 2017, the largest NBA contract in history at the time. The problem? He took up 35% of the league’s cap for FIVE different teams.

  • 2018-19: Thunder
  • 2019-20: Traded to the Rockets
  • 2020-21: Traded to the Wizards
  • 2021-22: Traded to the Lakers
  • 2022-23: Traded to the Jazz

Russ is owed $47,063,478 this season (38% of league cap), though the Jazz will likely buy him out. Chris Haynes reported that he could be headed right back to Los Angeles — this time for the Clippers.

D’Angelo Russell Trade: The Picks & Finances

  • 2023: New Orleans (28-27) reserves the right to swap picks.
  • 2024: NOLA has the rights to LA’s pick, but it can also wait a year and take the team’s 2025 pick instead
  • 2025: Lakers may have their own first-rounder if NOLA doesn’t kick the 2024 into ’25. This is when LeBron is due to enter free agency.
  • 2026: They own their pick.
  • 2027: Jazz have the rights to LA’s first-round pick.

In short: From 2023-27, the team will have only two first-round picks.

Financial Situation

  • Before the trade, the Lakers were over the league’s soft salary cap by roughly $60 million.
  • After the trade, the Lakers are still over the soft cap by roughly $60.4 million.
  • In 2023-24, the Lakers might only have $93.85 million committed to James, Vanderbilt, Anthony Davis, and Max Christie.
  • If they pick up Beasley’s club option, that number increases into the neighborhood $110 million.
  • If they pick up Beasley AND Rui Hachimura’s options, the figure increases to $117 million.

All in all, Rob Pelinka provided LeBron and the Lakers with two starting-caliber players and financial flexibility in the offseason. The roster construction is certainly better than it was before the season. Russell and Beasley both shoot the three ball at or above the 36% league average, and the Lakers only had two players (Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves) shooting that well from deep.

Sure a Finals feels far-fetched now (+6500), but it’d be unwise to discount any improved team with a pissed-off LeBron.

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a former Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.