Most NBA rumors this time of year are about potential player movement, but there are others that are simply about locker room drama. The very public internal team feud between Los Angeles Lakers guards Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell has been ongoing since March of this year, and there is some fresh news to report on the broken relationship and team dysfunction caused by the rift between Young and Russell.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Young and Russell have been working on their combative relationship and have made progress toward repairing the connection between them. It’s been a bitter five months since the animosity began, but Young seems to feel the pair are getting past their issues.
“We’re teammates. It’s been so long, so it’s kind of old (news),” said Young. “We’ll be able to work it out. We’ve already been working it out. It is what it is. I can’t be mad forever.”
The trouble began when rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell recorded a video of Nick Young talking about his relationship with then-girlfriend Iggy Azalea, the popular rapper/pop star from Australia (as reported by Hollywood Life). In the video, Young admits that he not only cheated on Azalea, but had done so repeatedly throughout their relationship. The video was leaked online, Iggy found out about it, and thus began a very uncomfortable situation in the Lakers’ locker room.
The NBA rumor mill has suggested that once this situation became public knowledge, Lakers teammates sided with Young and made Russell an outcast. Team chemistry hit rock bottom, which was evident in Los Angeles’ 17-65 regular season record in 2015-16. If the Lakers have any chance of recovering from last season’s disaster, Young and Russell must find a way to mend fences. If they can’t, one or both of them will likely be playing elsewhere next season.
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Further evidence that Young and Russell are working things out has come by way of Russell’s new television commercial. In the ad, Ben Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, asks Russell for advice as he embarks on his NBA career. Russell responds by taking Simmons’ cell phone and throwing it in the ocean, which is a clear reference to the cell phone video that caused so much despair for Russell and the Lakers this past year. Nick Young says that he can now find humor in the situation.
“Real funny. I need my commercial now,” Young said with a laugh after viewing Russell’s new Foot Locker commercial. “I’ll explain what happened to my life.”
Both Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell have been the subject of NBA trade rumors this summer — Young in particular. He is coming off a very poor showing in 2015-16, averaging a career-low 7.3 points per game and shooting an anemic 34 percent from the field. There is no way to know how much of this decline in production is due to the drama with Russell, but there certainly appears to be a link between the two events.
D’Angelo Russell also had his share of struggles during his first season in the NBA, and while he is very talented, it has been said that the Lakers are not completely sold on him as their point guard of the future. Russell has some work to do if he is to fulfill his potential as the second overall choice in the 2015 NBA Draft. Russell averaged 13.2 points per contest last season, but his shooting was erratic and his decision-making suspect as he tried to fight his way through a difficult season for both himself and his team.
NBA rumors are pointing toward a possible resolution in the months-long feud between Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell. Do you think these two can put the past behind them and help the Lakers move up in the Western Conference standings next season?
[Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP Images]