Trading D’Angelo Russell was one of the first moves Magic Johnson made when he took over the Los Angeles Lakers’ basketball operations department, but the former executive’s opinion of Russell has clearly changed over the past two seasons.
Russell is coming off a breakout season with the Brooklyn Nets in which he was named an All-Star, and there has been speculation that the Lakers will be interested in signing him as a restricted free agent next month. Johnson, who openly criticized Russell’s leadership abilities after trading him following the 2016-17 season, told Bill Oram of The Athletic on Monday that he is all for the Lakers trying to bring the point guard back.
“He’s better now,” Johnson said. “He’s a different player. He’s more mature. … Now he’s ready. He’s much more mature. I said the only thing, he was immature back then. He could always score, but the guys would never play with him because of what he did. But now all those guys are gone and he’s on another level now.”
Some will say Johnson should have ridden that out instead of giving up on a talented No. 2 overall pick, but Magic thought he was changing the culture in Los Angeles at the time. We all know how that worked out.
For what it’s worth, a remark Russell made before he was traded seems to indicate the Lakers have assembled his dream roster over the past year. If the Nets end up signing Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant, a reunion between Russell and the Lakers seemed like a legitimate possibility.
D’Angelo Russell is expected to draw plenty of interest as a restricted free agent next month, and the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be open to bringing him back after they traded him to the Brooklyn Nets just two years ago. If something Russell said prior to that trade holds true, the feeling should be mutual.
Back when he was still with the Lakers, Russell was asked by LakersNation.com to name the four players he would most like to play with in his ideal starting five. Two of the four were LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
That’s pretty noteworthy, because it means Russell is — or once was — a huge admirer of Davis. LeBron, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan are considered three of the best players of all time, but Davis hasn’t quite reached that level. Plenty of players would have put Bill Russell, Jordan and LeBron in their starting five, but we’re guessing very few would include Davis.
If the Nets are able to execute their preferred offseason plan, it doesn’t sound like they will be motivated to match any offers Russell receives. Perhaps he will get his wish by being able to share the court with LeBron and Davis.
If Brooklyn were to get the sense they could sign both Irving and another free agent, like Kevin Durant — which would be a dream scenario — they might consider rescinding their qualifying offer to Russell, who is a restricted free agent. Rescinding their offer would give them the salary cap space needed to sign two big-time players. If Russell becomes available, the Indiana Pacers are among the numerous teams that reportedly would have interest in signing him.
Russell is coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game and made his first All-Star team. The 23-year-old former No. 2 pick is an emerging player, while Irving, 27, is more established in the league.
The Brooklyn Nets will ultimately get to decide whether or not D’Angelo Russell remains on their roster next season, but there may be plenty of teams that are willing to drive up the price on the All-Star point guard after his big year.
Russell will be a restricted free agent this summer, so the Nets can match any offer sheet he signs with another team. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, a “market is forming” for Russell and several teams — including the Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers — are expected to have interest in signing him.
That isn’t exactly a surprise, as Russell is coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game. The former No. 2 overall pick is still just 23, so he may just now be starting to fulfill his potential.
The amount of interest in Russell will simply make him more expensive for Brooklyn, and he is eligible for a maximum salary of $27 million next season. It would not be a surprise if a team that needs a point guard offered him that, at which point the Nets would have a big decision to make.
The New York Knicks aren’t the only team in the Big Apple being linked to Kyrie Irving.
According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, some in the Brooklyn Nets’ organization want to pair Irving with D’Angelo Russell, feeling that the two could “thrive” together in a backcourt pairing.
A source tells me that there are some within the #Nets organization that feel a D'Angelo Russell-Kyrie Irving pairing could work, that the two All-Star point guards could not only coexist but thrive. Story on the way.
It would certainly be a bold and risky proposition, especially after another guard, Spencer Dinwiddie, signed a three-year extension with the team last November. Irving would demand top billing a year after Russell came into his own as a lead guard, and there are questions over Irving’s mentality as well. Still, he’s one of the most talented players in the game, and it would instantly make the Nets serious contenders in the East, which is no doubt a big part of the appeal.
D’Angelo Russell was arrested for trying to smuggle marijuana through an airport earlier this week, and you know Stephen A. Smith was at the top of the list of people who were waiting to rip the Brooklyn Nets star over it.
Among the many things Smith is known for is the way he ridicules athletes for getting caught smoking or carrying weed. In his typical flamboyant style, the ESPN personality urges them to “STAY OFF THE WEED” on live television. He went all-out delivering that same message to Russell.
The way Russell got caught was probably the best part of his arrest. Smith is right that he should stay off the weed, but at the very least he should be smart enough to not transport it through an airport using a fake beverage container.
D’Angelo Russell was cited for trying to smuggle weed through an airport on Wednesday night. The best part is he was trying to smuggle it through a fake Arizona Iced Tea can.
Russell was flying from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Louisville but was stopped by TSA, which noticed the can and found marijuana in it on an inspection. Police were informed and issued a citation to the Brooklyn Nets All-Star guard. USA Today reports that Russell received a summons to appear in court.
You have to love the attitude by Russell on this. He probably thought that he could hide his stash in the can and nobody would notice. The problem is TSA is stringent about checking for liquids, so of course they were going to be suspicious about someone sneaking a can of iced tea through security.
When Magic Johnson traded Russell away from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Nets two years ago, he questioned the youngster’s leadership and called him immature. This is probably the exact type of behavior to which he was referring.
Russell, 23, is from Louisville and has developed nicely as a player. He averaged a career-high 21.1 points and 7.0 assists this season, while shooting 43.4 percent from the field. But as this shows us, he still has a ways to go to improve his decision-making.
After a breakout season with the Brooklyn Nets, D’Angelo Russell is set to hit restricted free agency. That doesn’t mean he’s looking for a change of scenery, however.
Russell said Wednesday that he hopes to stay with the franchise, though he understands the business side of things.
“I definitely want to be here. But I also know it’s a business, too,” Russell said, via Ian Begley of ESPN. “So I’m not going to play that role like I don’t know what could possibly happen,” Russell said Wednesday after the team conducted its exit interviews. “Say somebody comes here that I have to be a part of (a transaction to acquire them), I know that could be a possibility. So I just want to stay in this moment and not speak too soon about anything.”
Russell’s 21.1 points and seven assists per game this season are both easily career highs. It’s safe to say the Nets are big fans of his, and in all likelihood, he’ll be sticking around for another season. The feeling appears to be mutual.
The first round of the NBA playoffs gets under way this weekend. While the heavy favorites are expected to have little trouble, that doesn’t mean there’s no intrigue. There are plenty of things worth watching in the opening round of the playoffs. That includes a lot of star players, some favored and some not, who will have a lot of say in whether their teams advance.
Here is a look at ten key players worth watching as the first round gets underway.
Joel Embiid, C, 76ers
The lingering question is whether Embiid is healthy. He has left knee pain, and the updates he’s given haven’t exactly been encouraging. The fact is, for the Sixers to make a deep playoff run, they need Embiid to be healthy, or at least capable of playing like he’s healthy. A first-round matchup against Brooklyn will allow everyone to see exactly where Embiid is and what he’s capable of, which could inform a lot of Philadelphia’s expectations moving forward.
Blake Griffin, F, Pistons
Griffin is another star big man who simply isn’t healthy. Troubled by a bad knee, he actually sat out the Pistons’ final regular season game, which was essentially a must-win to get in the playoffs. That shows just how severe Griffin’s situation is. The Pistons would be heavy underdogs against the Milwaukee Bucks even with a healthy Griffin, and they don’t really have a chance without him at full strength. How much his knee limits him, if it allows him to play at all, is worth watching.
The Brooklyn Nets are on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time since 2015, and D’Angelo Russell deserves much of the credit for that. The star point guard doesn’t mind taking it, either.
Following Brooklyn’s 110-96 win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Russell was asked about the terrific season he is having. While he has said he cares more about winning than his 20.9 points and 7.0 assists per game, he clearly loves proving the doubters wrong.
Reporter: U say u don’t pay attention to stats, but ur profile has raised a lot this yr. Do u notice that?
D’Angelo Russell: As far as what?
Reporter: What people think about u.
DLo: Everybody was wrong, obviously. Everybody was wrong about me, so I don’t have to say anything.
Russell scored 29 points against Boston, which gives him 20 or more points in six of the Nets’ past seven games. Brooklyn is currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining, so Russell will need to be at his best over the final two weeks of the regular season.
Trading Russell was one of the first moves Magic Johnson made when he took over the Los Angeles Lakers’ basketball operations department, and Magic was critical of Russell publicly and said he needed better leadership at the point guard position. That situation has clearly helped Russell play with a chip on his shoulder, and Nets fans have had no problem taunting Johnson over it.