Russell will compete for a starting spot during training camp, Zach Lowe of ESPN reports.
While Russell, acquired in June as part of a deal that sent Brook Lopez to the Lakers, may have the highest upside of any player on the roster, Lowe's report implies that the third-year guard will not be handed a starting spot. With Timofey Mozgov and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson expected to start at center and power forward, respectively, several players -- DeMarre Carroll, Allen Crabbe, Jeremy Lin, Caris LeVert, and Russell -- will battle it out for the remaining three spots. Lowe notes that the combination of Lin, LeVert and Crabbe may have the inside track, though it seems highly likely that Russell will be given a chance to start -- whether it's at the one or the two -- at some point, considering his standing as a former No. 2 overall pick, who averaged nearly 16 points per game for a dysfunctional team last season. Whether Russell starts or not, he'll still be a key rotation player, though gauging his fantasy value heading into the season will be a difficult task.
In what appears to be an effort to clear some cap space for big name free agents over the next few years, the Lakers were able to get rid of the last three year's of Mozgov's four-year, $64 million deal, but will also have to let go of Russell, who was the team's second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. With Lopez heading to Los Angeles, Russell appears to be one of the Nets top options offensively heading into the 2017-18 campaign and he should see as many minutes as possible, which should mean a bump in the 28.7 minutes he saw a season ago, as well as his overall fantasy value.
Russell, who is dealing with a personal issue and not with the team, will have his season officially conclude by not participating in Wednesday's game. He will finish his second year in the league averaging 15.6 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals across 28.7 minutes per game. In his absence, look for David Nwaba, Jordan Clarkson and Tyler Ennis to see additional run at the guard slots.
Russell has temporarily left the team for a personal matter and is not expected to play in Tuesday's game against the Pelicans.
The Lakers will give Russell as much time as needed to tend to a personal issue, so there's no guarantee he plays in Wednesday's regular-season finale against the Warriors either. With Russell not with the team, Jordan Clarkson, David Nwaba and Tyler Ennis would likely be in for bigger roles in the backcourt.
Russell tallied 16 points (6-19 FG, 2-8 3Pt, 2-2 FT), four rebounds, four assists and three steals over 34 minutes in Sunday's 110-109 win over the Timberwolves.
Playing while grieving the death of his grandmother, Russell understandably struggled through the game, but he came through when it counted most. The second-year guard drained the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer, only his second made shot from behind the arc on the night. Russell has compiled three straight double-digit scoring efforts after having shot just 1-for-9 against the Clippers back on April 1, and he should seen his normal allotment of minutes over the final two games of the season.
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