The Los Angeles Lakers were able to free up some much needed salary cap space last week when the Brooklyn Nets were willing to take on Timofey Mozgov’s salary in a trade.
Unfortunately it came at the expense of D’Angelo Russell, as he was also sent to Brooklyn in the trade in exchange for Brook Lopez, who has one year remaining on his contract, and the 27th overall pick in the draft last week that brought the Lakers Utah forward Kyle Kuzma.
Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson recently said one of the reasons for trading Russell was due to a lack of leadership, which is something that he hopes No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball can fill.
In his introductory press conference with the Nets, Russell responded to Johnson’s comments, calling them irrelevant now that he’s no longer with the Lakers, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
“It is good to be here,” Russell said at the Nets practice facility in Brooklyn. “Can’t really control that, what they say, I’m gone. So it’s the past. I am here now. It’s irrelevant, honestly.”
Russell added that he plans to be a leader for a young Brooklyn team that had the worst record in the NBA last season at 20-62:
“Wherever they put me, I am going to take advantage of it to the fullest and that’s me being the leader right away,” Russell said when asked if he sees an opportunity to be a leader in Brooklyn. “I am looking forward to the challenge. You saying my leadership is being questioned, this is an opportunity to make the best out of it.”
Russell made his first appearance in front of the Brooklyn fan base this past weekend at the BIG3 League season opener, but he was not received that well as he was reportedly greeted with boos.