Was D’Angelo Russell hinting at frustration with Lakers in comments after loss?
D’Angelo Russell’s first stint with the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t exactly go according to plan, and now his second one may be going south too.
The Memphis Grizzlies knocked off the Lakers on Wednesday by a 103-93 final score to knot up their first-round series at one game apiece. Russell was among the Lakers players who struggled, going just 2-of-11 from the field for five points in his 30 minutes of action.
After the game, Russell was asked about his role with the team and took exception to being called a “point guard” for the Lakers.
“I’m basketball player, you can’t keep saying point guard,” said Russell. “[I’m a] basketball player with this team, not really a point guard role.”
Here are his full comments.
"(I'm a) basketball player, you can't keep saying point guard. …basketball player with this team, not really a point guard role."
– D’Angelo Russell on his role with the Lakers
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 20, 2023
Russell, whose natural position is point guard, has seen his usage take a bit of a hit with the Lakers. Though his regular season stats didn’t quite reflect that since he played many games with LeBron James or Anthony Davis out of the lineup, it has been a different story with the Lakers fully healthy. Russell also had a 1-for-9 stinker in the play-in tournament against Minnesota and seems to be struggling with his role right now.
A step back from ball-handling duties is par for the course on any James-led offense. But Russell has also been losing some usage to Austin Reaves and Dennis Schroder, both of whom are taking on larger playmaking roles in halfcourt sets lately. That often leaves Russell as a spot-up three-point shooter or as an emergency dribble-penetrator on broken plays.
The ex-All-Star Russell is set to be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. While Russell also seemed a little unhappy with his previous team, he might be as good as gone if the Lakers flame out in the playoffs this year.