NBA Rumors: D'Angelo Russell Linked To Eastern Conf. Team In Sign & Trade

When D'Angelo Russell came over to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade deadline deal, both sides were thrilled with the reunion, and with D-Lo's quick and successful fit into the lineup, talk of a long-term extension was soon emerging. 

But now, after being exposed in the Western Conference Finals, Russell's LA Story might not have a Hollywood ending after all. 

The Lakers are prioritizing getting two other key free agent pieces signed, and there's a report today that the Toronto Raptors will be a "team to watch" for Russell, possibly in a sign-and-trade scenario. 

In fact, goes the rumor, with the Lakers also having eyes for Raptors' impending free agent Fred VanVleet, it could even be a double sign-and-trade:

Toronto could work out a rare double sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers to land FVV’s replacement. D’Angelo Russell has been part of such an exchange before when he came to the Golden State Warriors in a double S-and-T for Kevin Durant.

If all parties involved agree and find ways to make the money work, Russell could wind up in Toronto, giving the Raptors the conventional pick-and-roll operator they’ve long lacked.

                                                                            —Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report

Russell might be a somewhat reasonable facsimile for VanVleet on the offensive end of the floor for Toronto, but on the other side of the ball, the Raptors would be getting a massive downgrade. FVV is one of the better defensive point guards in the league, despite his small stature, displaying a hound dog mentality, and is always among the NBA leaders in steals per game and deflections per game. Russell... not so much. 

His poor play in the Western Conference Finals (averaging just 6.3 points and 3.5 assists on 32 percent shooting from the field) even led to his benching for Game 4. 

But there aren't too many other starting caliber point guards out there on the market for the Raptors if they lose VanVleet, so trying to secure Russell in that eventuality makes some sense—depending on the price. 

Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports