Maybe Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell aren’t such mortal enemies after all.
Russell was traded by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Brooklyn Nets over the offseason as part of a deal that included Brook Lopez and Timofey Mozgov. Meanwhile, Young signed with the Golden State Warriors as a free agent, also leaving the Lakers.
On Friday night, Russell’s Nets will be in Los Angeles to face the Lakers, and Young is pretty excited to see what Russell does in the revenge game:
Young’s Warriors played Thursday night, so they’ll have the night off, meaning Young will be able to get the popcorn ready and watch the Russell show.
Russell, now in his third season in the league, is averaging 21.7 points, five assists and 4.1 rebounds per game this season with Brooklyn. Both his Nets and the Lakers are 3-5 on the season. As for the surprise over Young’s support for Russell, well, we all know that they had an issue after Russell’s video led to the breakup of Young and Iggy Azalea.
The mother of all NBA seasons is almost here. So as you finalize your League Pass subscriptions, complete your fantasy drafts, and prepare the guacamole for your watch parties, take some time to ponder the true meaning of the season — specifically, the benevolent stars who make such a joyous holiday possible with their prodigious athletic talents.
Here I present, each NBA team’s most important player heading into 2017-18:
Atlanta Hawks — Dennis Schroder, PG
“All my friends are dead,” said Schroder in his best Lil Uzi Vert voice as he gazed upon his roster following the respective exits of his last remaining All-Star teammates in Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard this summer. Yes, the Hawks are now as thin as a toothpick, and the incentive for them to “Do Badly for Bagley” or “Make The Fans Puka for Luka” will be enormous. But someone has to lead this JV squad, and their resident German is as good of an option as any. Perhaps we will see Dennis the Menace gun for 20 and 10. Maybe he develops some nice pick-and-roll chemistry with new additions Dewayne Dedmon and rookie John Collins. Perhaps he finally bleaches his entire head blonde. Anything to give this team a modicum of watchability this season.
Boston Celtics — Kyrie Irving
After selling an arm, a leg, and a hip for him this summer, the Celtics will hope that Irving’s performance in his first season with them does not fall flat. The outside noise in Uncle Drew’s ear will be deafening — mockery of his decision to ditch LeBron James and go off in search of his own empire, jeers at the perceived stagnation of his playmaking skills, pervasive meme treatments of his unorthodox views on astronomy. But Irving is here for one reason and one reason only: to ball out. And that’s what he’s gonna do. Just remember kids, there’s no such thing as distractions when you’re very much woke. [mic drop]
Lamar Odom apparently takes the Bro Code very seriously.
In an appearance this week on Complex’s “Everyday Struggle,” the former Sixth Man of the Year and ex-Los Angeles Laker commented on the Nick Young-D’Angelo Russell scandal that rocked the Lakers last year.
“If I was Nick Young, I would’ve put my hands on him,” said Odom of Russell, per Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. “And I was expecting motherf*ckers on the team to put their hands on him. That would’ve showed camaraderie.”
Though both players are no longer on the Lakers, it’s hard to forget the stir that Russell created when he outed Young’s alleged infidelities in a secret cell phone video, and it seems that Young still hasn’t quite gotten over it. As for Odom, perhaps this is a subject matter of particular sensitivity for him.
With all the shuffling in the NBA this offseason, the common sentiment among fans is that all the talent has headed West — with the exception, of course, of Mr. LeBron Raymone James.
Earlier this summer, I swung by the Big3’s tour stop in Charlotte, and the legend Clyde Drexler had this to say: “The West, in my opinion, had the majority of the good players. After all these trades, now they’ve got all the good players. If ‘Bron comes to the West, they might as well do away with the East.”
The West has won five of the past six All-Star Games and three of the past four NBA titles. It’s unquestionably the more competitive conference, and now that Jimmy Butler and Paul George have been traded to Minnesota and Oklahoma City, respectively, it’s also leaps and bounds ahead of the East in star quality.
But really — there is a case to be made that the West has 13 out of the 14 best players in the league. ESPN made that case, and also argued that the West’s second-flight All-Stars are better than the East’s first flight.
That certainly may be true, but the East still has some studs — especially in its top five. As we rev up for the 2017-18 season, below is our ranking of the 20 best players in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
1. LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
What more can I say about LeBron than what’s already been said? He’s the best player in our generation, and he’s unquestionably one of the three best players of all-time. What’s missing from that all-time debate is that James is still only 32, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
Is it out of reason to say he could play another 10 years? What if he keeps posting the same numbers for another five years — then is he the G.O.A.T.? That question will be answered in the future, but the point is this: there’s still plenty left to come before we can judge James’ career against that of the other greats.
2. John Wall, G, Washington Wizards
Wall has always had the talent to be one of the best players in the league, but he really put it all together last season. Anyone who saw his vicious charge through the playoffs knows this dude is not to be slept on — Wall will take on anyone in the league. He has that Dion Waiters “I’m the best player on the floor every time I’m on the floor” mentality.
Wall got a monster contract extension this offseason, and it appears he’s entering his prime. Last year he set career marks for points (23.1) and assists (10.7).
D’Angelo Russell was the hero at Dyckman Park on Wednesday night.
The former Los Angeles Lakers guard was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in June and is already getting comfortable on the East Coast. While many NBA players are getting run this summer playing in the Drew League or at UCLA on the West Coast, some others have opted to stay sharp by playing at Dyckman in the Bronx.
Russell was doing just that and drained a game-winning shot.
The crowd absolutely loved the display and mobbed Russell after his shot. They’re gonna like him in Brooklyn.
Swaggy P is quickly becoming Subtle P from the looks of it.
Golden State Warriors swingman Nick Young made an appearance at a Drew League game on Saturday and was spotted on the Warriors’ official Snapchat Story wearing a T-shirt that read “You Snitch.”
That shirt could be interpreted by some as a reference to Young’s former Los Angeles Lakers teammate D’Angelo Russell and his notorious leaked video in which he exposed Young for supposedly cheating on then-fiancée Iggy Azalea.
That scandal took place nearly a year-and-a-half ago, and neither Young nor Russell is even a member of the Lakers anymore. We had gotten some signs that the two had perhaps mended their relationship as well, but apparently bygones might not exactly be bygones just yet.
H/T NBA Reddit
Magic Johnson didn’t have the kindest things to say about D’Angelo Russell after Magic traded the young guard to the Brooklyn Nets.
“D’Angelo is an excellent player … but what I needed is a leader,” Magic said.
You’d expect Russell to be hurt by that, and initially, it seemed like he was. Russell called the criticism “irrelevant.” It was a pretty shady thing to say about the 21-year-old guard, who very well could become an All-Star.
Russell, however, said he still holds Johnson in high regard.
“Magic is one of the greatest of all time,” Russell told Complex at Tuesday’s Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards in Los Angeles. “For him to say something like that, for me, is still an honor. Whatever criticism he has for me, I’m going to take it and make the best of it. I don’t look at it as a negative.”
Magic clearly thinks Lonzo Ball, whom Los Angeles selected No. 2 overall in last month’s draft, is that leader he’s looking for. Russell said he’s looking at the change of scenery as an opportunity to move on.
“Being in the situation that Brooklyn has offered me, I’m excited,” Russell said.
He added, “It’s a major learning curve, especially when you go to a new situation. I’ve never been traded before, so it’s a good opportunity for me to make the best of it. You never know what the future holds.”
Russell put up 15.6 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds a game last year for the Lakers. Magic traded Russell and Timofey Mozgov (a contract dump) for Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick in the draft (Kyle Kuzma).
D’Angelo Russell had a fairly mature response when asked to comment on some recent criticisms by the NBA legend who traded him.
At his introductory press conference with the Brooklyn Nets, Russell essentially downplayed recent comments by Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson criticizing his leadership abilities.
It would have been easy for Russell to fire back, but he chose not to. The young guard never seemed to fit in with the Lakers going back to his rookie year, and it’s probably best for all involved that they move on — though it would probably be better for everyone without the public critiques.
Days after sending D’Angelo Russell packing, Magic Johnson continues to show him no mercy and no chill.
Addressing the media at Lonzo Ball’s introductory press conference on Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations took a parting shot at Russell and his perceived lack of leadership qualities.
“D’Angelo is an excellent player,” said Johnson, per Baxter Holmes of ESPN. “He has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody that can make the other players better and also [somebody] that players want to play with.”
The 21-year-old Russell was traded to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week along with Timofey Mozgov in exchange for Brook Lopez and a first-round pick. Maturity concerns often overshadowed the former No. 2 pick’s talent during his time with the Lakers, and Johnson did indeed indicate at the time that he wanted more leadership from Russell. The Lakers are now moving on to a new No. 2 pick in Ball, and based on these comments from Johnson about him, it sounds like Ball better checks off the boxes that the team is looking for.
Many saw the return that the Los Angeles Lakers got from the Brooklyn Nets for D’Angelo Russell as somewhat low, but that may have had something to do with his perceived trade value around the league.
Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan reported on Tuesday that the Dallas Mavericks were unwilling to give up the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft for Russell.
The 21-year-old Russell, himself an ex-No. 2 pick, was traded with Timofey Mozgov’s albatross contract to the Nets for Brook Lopez, still an All-Star caliber big but one whose contract expires in a year, and a late first-rounder.
Russell doesn’t have the most well-rounded game, and he was knocked on multiple occasions for a lack of maturity during his two years with the Lakers. But Russell’s upside remains quite high as a scorer and a pick-and-roll creator, and he can’t even become a restricted free agent until 2019.
In fairness, the Mavs seem to have another young point guard in their sights with the No. 9 pick. But this all probably just goes to show how perfect a trade partner the Nets, an awful team in dire need of talent and one with enough cap space to absorb some bloated contracts, were for the Lakers.