LeBron’s friend: Wolves-Nuggets series shows Lakers need to get rid of D-Lo, Rui and Reaves

Jason Simpson
3 Min Read
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Had the Los Angeles Lakers upset the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs, they would’ve been tasked with facing the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round.

Instead, the Nuggets are the ones having to deal with the Timberwolves, and it has been a dramatic series so far, with Minnesota stealing the first two games on the road.

A friend of Lakers superstar LeBron James thinks the series is showing that the Purple and Gold need to move on from D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura likely due to their deficiencies on the defensive end.

Through the first two games, the Wolves have limited Nuggets superstar Jamal Murray to just 25 points on an abysmal 9-of-32 shooting from the field. That’s because of their perimeter defense spearheaded by Jaden McDaniels and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Russell, Reaves and Hachimura all played large roles for the Lakers this season in support of James and Anthony Davis. Those three players averaged the most points per game of anyone on the team aside from L.A.’s two superstars.

There do, however, seem to be some folks who think the Lakers should be willing to make major changes all over their roster — as long as they keep James and Davis.

Russell had a strong 2023-24 season at times but was spotty during the playoffs, a reality that certainly hurt the Lakers.

Reaves, meanwhile, didn’t take the leap this season that many were hoping for, but he remained a solid contributor.

As for Hachimura, he was a nice piece during the regular season but also had a frustrating series against Denver.

The Lakers have a big offseason ahead of them, and they’re already being tasked with finding a new head coach after they parted ways with Darvin Ham. They will likely be involved in many trade rumors this offseason — only because that’s always the case for the Purple and Gold — which could put the futures of players like Russell, Reaves and Hachimura in question.

But it would be bold to assume that all three will be gone by the time the new season begins, even if that’s a possibility that’s technically on the table.

The Lakers have Reaves and Hachimura under club control moving forward. Russell, meanwhile, has a player option on his deal for next season, so that will be something to keep an eye on.

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