D'Angelo Russell free agency: Lakers should be open to bringing guard back, Magic Johnson says

Magic Johnson thinks the Lakers should consider signing D’Angelo Russell.

The 23-year-old guard began his career in Los Angeles and reportedly “may be open” to rejoining the team this summer. Johnson, who stepped down as the franchise’s president of basketball operations in late April, thinks that would be good for both sides.

“He’s better now,” Johnson told The Athletic on Monday at the NBA awards show. “He’s a different player. He’s more mature.”

Russell will be a restricted free agent and the Nets can match any offer sheet he signs with another team. But, the Nets are expected to pursue Kyrie Irving, which may make Russell expendable. The Lakers also reportedly have interest in Irving.

Russell averaged a career-high 21.1 points and 7.0 assists while shooting 36.9% from 3-point range in 81 games in 2018-19.

The Nets exceeded expectations last season and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15. They were topped by the 76ers in five games in their first-round series.

“If we’re being completely honest, I enjoyed the team that we had this whole season,” Russell told The New York Post about free agency earlier this month. “I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy our team, and the pieces we had around.”

Russell spent his first two seasons in Los Angeles before he was traded to the Nets in June 2017 by Johnson and the Lakers. Russell is more likely to think about signing with the Lakers because of Johnson’s resignation, according to Bleacher Report.

The guard has also been linked to the Pacers, Timberwolves, Magic and Suns, amongst others.

The Lakers completed one of the biggest trades in NBA history earlier this month when they acquired Anthony Davis from the Pelicans in exchange for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round picks.

Los Angeles is also expected to pursue Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker and Kawhi Leonard, amongst others.