When D’Angelo Russell was traded to the Brooklyn Nets last month it sent a clear message that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka were not opposed to moving on from anyone in order to make moves that they felt were necessary to better the Los Angeles Lakers.
While the team likely did not want to include the second-year guard in order for the team to rid themselves of the horrendous Timofey Mozgov contract the Lakers had to pay that price. However, when Magic Johnson was later asked about the trade involving Russell he said that he felt the team needed a leader and Lonzo Ball was that guy.
It was evident that Russell had the tools necessary to be an elite scoring point guard but it was unclear if he could lead a team and Johnson obviously feels that Russell isn’t there yet. In an appearance on The Woj Podcast with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Russell admitted that he is still puzzled at Johnson’s comments:
“I didn’t know what the reason behind it was. I’m off your hands, I have nothing to do with you. I’m on a new team, I have nothing to do with it so I didn’t understand the comments, I still don’t.”
Despite not understanding the reasoning, Russell says he’s taking the comments in stride while also knowing better than to get in any kind of argument with the Hall of Famer:
“But like I said before he’s still one of the best point guards to ever play the game and for him to say anything about me I can just run with it. I can just take it and run with it. If it’s negative if it’s positive, whatever he has to say about me it’s something I can just run with and make the best out of it. What does it look like me going back and forth with Magic Johnson I’m not gonna win that.”
Russell’s time with the Lakers was roller coaster to say the least. Although he did put up solid numbers during his two seasons with the Lakers he was very inconsistent. Concerns about his maturity also raised questions to see if was ready to lead a team as the franchise player. Despite his growth under first-year coach Luke Walton the Lakers felt it was best to move on.
A change of scenery for both Russell and the Lakers seems like it will be beneficial for both sides. The Lakers have already seen the rewards of having a player like Ball running the offense which helped them to a Las Vegas Summer League championship. Now in Brooklyn, Russell can turn a new page and focus on becoming a better all-around player.