NBA trade rumors regarding some of the league’s biggest stars have been swirling over the past few weeks, and now an unlikely name has come into the fold. While the Los Angeles Lakers surprised everyone in last year’s draft when they selected D’Angelo Russell over Jahlil Okafor with the No. 2 pick, they may already have soured on the 19-year-old rookie out of Ohio State.
With an aging Kobe Bryant and a young roster, the Lakers were expected to be bad this year. And bad they are. With a dismal record of 9-38, the Lakers have the second worst record in the entire NBA, only behind the blatantly tanking Philadelphia 76ers. And this is not necessarily a bad thing.
With the Kobe Bryant era coming to an end, the Lakers need to replenish their talent. Since the 76ers own the Lakers’ first-round pick in the 2016 NBA draft if it falls outside of the top three spots, it is in the best interest for Los Angeles to lose games. After all, they would have absolutely no shot to do any damage in the playoffs if they made it, so ensuring they get to keep their first pick in the draft is for the good of the franchise.
Without the pressure of having to win a championship, this was supposed to be a season for Russell and Julius Randle to get their feet wet in the NBA. While rookies are expected to struggle, things have been a little worse than expected for the Lakers’ young duo. After getting blown out by the Detroit Pistons in early December, Lakers head coach Byron Scott benched Russell and Randle, according to SB Nation.
While it may have appeared to have been Scott’s attempt to send a message to his young rookies, things are apparently worse for Russell. According to Brian Geltzeiler of Hoops Critic, Russell has been made available for a trade by the Lakers.
In taking to people around the league on who has been made available in trade talks a very surprising name has come up: DeAngelo Russell
— Brian Geltzeiler (@hoopscritic) January 28, 2016
Even with Russell’s struggles, this is still a huge surprise. For the Lakers to give up on the No. 2 overall pick in the draft in his first season signifies huge problems. After 45 games played, Russell is averaging 12.2 points per game, 3.3 assists per game, 3.6 rebounds per game, and 2.4 turnovers per game. For a young rookie on a bad team, these are nowhere near awful numbers halfway through the season.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) January 27, 2016
The decision for the Lakers to make Russell available for trade may come down to more than his stats though. According to ESPN, Scott is also not a fan of Russell’s cockiness and believes the young rookie needs to adjust his attitude.
“I saw the last couple minutes that he was in that he was really trying to take over the game, and that’s not him yet. I want the ball to move a little bit. I thought it stuck with him. He tried to make the big shots and things like that. I understand that, but to me, that’s not him right now. I love the fact that he has confidence. When it gets to the point where it’s cockiness, then we’ve got a problem. I think when you get cocky, you’re thinking that there’s nothing that you can’t do. And if you think that, then you stop working.”
While the criticism may be valid, the cockiness issue seems like something that Russell can work on as he matures. If the report from Brian Geltzeiler is true, there has to be something else going on behind the scenes. While the trade rumors regarding Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell are still in their early stages, it is obvious at this point that the team has issues with his maturity. Whether or not they choose to overlook his issues and move forward with him remains to be seen, but more rumors are sure to come out over the next few weeks regarding potential destinations.
[Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images]