Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton decided to make a change in his rotation before Monday night’s game against the New York Knicks, as veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov were moved to the bench in favor of Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black.
While Walton made it clear that the move was to focus on the development of the team’s young players, what was not known is that Mozgov would go from starting to falling out of the rotation completely, as he did not get into the game Monday when the Lakers won 121-107.
Since Mozgov did not play in the game, it has given him an opportunity to think about things other than basketball recently. According to Baxter Holmes of ESPN, Mozgov, who grew up in Russia, recently commented on the conflicts that Russia and the United States have been dealing with recently:
“People ask me questions sometimes, ‘Oh, your boy Putin did this,'” Mozgov told ESPN recently during the Lakers’ trip to New York to face the Knicks. “He’s not my boy, first of all. He’s my president, but he’s not my friend. And he never asks me what [to] do.
“Some of the things he does, you’ve got to understand, like Trump, like Obama, like American presidents tries to [make] America better, this is the same way. It’s like any country — Putin or whoever. It’s for everybody — whatever decision you make, you probably think how it will be better for your people. If I was president, I would be the best to my people.”
Mozgov also added that if Russian Preident Vladimir Putin and United States President Donald Trump have a good relationship, that’s not necessarily a bad thing:
Mozgov added, “When we talk about Russia in the States and Trump, I don’t get why people get mad. If he wants to make a good relationship with Russia, I don’t get it. It’s good to be friends with somebody.”
Since Trump was elected last November, tensions between the countries have been the highest it has been since the Cold War as American intelligence agencies have reported that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election in the form that Russian operatives had compromising personal and financial information about Trump.
It was clear that Mozgov did not want to comment too much on the matter, as he wants to remain focused on basketball, especially around the time he was removed from the starting lineup. But he did encourage anyone curious about Russia to go visit his native country to see for themselves what it is like.