D’Angelo Russell Addresses Trade Deadline Rumors & Happiness To Stay With Lakers
D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It would have been perfectly reasonable for Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell’s quality of play to take a dive in the weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline.

It was likely impossible for Russell to look at his phone without seeing his name pop up in yet another rumor, tying him to teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors and more. For a moment, it appeared an almost foregone conclusion that Russell would be dealt.

Instead, Russell turned that into the best stretch of basketball of his entire career. In the 13 games prior to the deadline, Russell averaged 24.0 points and 6.5 assists per game on 46.6/46.6/88.4 shooting splits. He was unconscious as a shooter and a playmaker. And it hasn’t slowed down since the deadline, either, as he has posted a 30-point game and a new career high 17 assists in the three games for the Lakers since Feb. 8.

Russell admitted that the final weeks before the deadline were stressful for his friends and family, but it never affected him and the results spoke for themselves, according to Melissa Rohlin of Fox Sports:

“Honestly, everybody around me, like my friends, my family, they were kinda panicking a little bit, panicking for me,” Russell told FOX Sports. “And I kinda just never let my mind go there. For me, it was wake up, come to work. I just kinda stayed in that moment. It allowed me to catch a vibe, just flow through basketball, you know.”

The Lakers guard spoke about how he was able to put aside all the noise and focus on being the best version of himself on the court:

“Guys come in, they care about their percentages, they care about all this stuff and then they struggle,” Russell told FOX Sports. “As soon as I stopped caring about it, I played my best basketball of my career.”

And while many players might have soured on their franchise amid the rumors, Russell is aware that basketball is a business and is still passionate about helping the Lakers win games:

“Hell yeah,” Russell said of his excitement to still be a Laker. “I’ve been enjoying it. The energy is good. I enjoy being in L.A. But I wanted to be somewhere I’m wanted. So, for me, if they don’t want me, I’m cool. I’ll go. I’ll play in Detroit, to be honest. Like, I just want to be wanted. But yeah, I definitely wanted to be here.”

Russell has matured significantly in the time between his two Lakers tenures. Getting traded as frequently as he was could have turned him into a difficult player to work with, but instead, it has shaped him into a player who understands the business side while always giving his all to the team that he’s on.

And with the way he’s been producing, he made it nearly impossible for the Lakers to trade him away, as he has helped to turn the season around with his play.

D’Angelo Russell speaks about sharing the ball when not scoring

The Lakers’ most recent victory against the Utah Jazz saw Russell score only 11 points, but pair it with a career high 17 assists. That led to questioning about Russell’s mentality when his shot isn’t falling, and he talked about taking whatever the defense gives him.

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