When the Los Angeles Lakers selected him as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, most people viewed D’Angelo Russell as one of the team’s cornerstones in the post-Kobe Bryant era. Unfortunately, Russell’s stint with the Lakers didn’t last long. When the Lakers hired Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka as their new front office executives, their first move was to send Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the draft rights to Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers-Nets trade turned out to be a blessing in disguise for D’Angelo Russell. In his second year of playing for the Nets, the 22-year-old point guard received his first NBA All-Star selection as a replacement for injured Indiana Pacers superstar Victor Oladipo. Before the February NBA trade deadline, Russell’s name also surfaced in various trade rumors, but it’s not as bad as what happened to the Lakers’ young core.
In an interview with Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report, one of the topics D’Angelo Russell talked about is the recent drama involving his former team. When New Orleans Pelicans center/power forward Anthony Davis officially became available on the trade block, the Lakers reportedly offered their entire young core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, an Ivica Zubac for Davis. The deal didn’t push through, as the Pelicans decided to wait until the summer of 2019 to trade Davis so teams like the Boston Celtics could join the bidding.
D’Angelo Russell believes that if he was still in Los Angeles, there is a strong possibility that he would also be part of the trade package that the Lakers would offer to the Pelicans. Russell said that being traded to the Nets was the “best thing that happened in my career.”
“If [the Lakers] didn’t let me go then, they were gonna let me go now, and I’d be going through what they’re going through. Best thing that happened in my career.”
D'Angelo Russell's recent surge could become profitable https://t.co/qTjddze1eN
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) February 15, 2019
No one can blame D’Angelo Russell for saying such a thing. Now that he’s no longer a member of the Lakers’ organization, Russell receives less distraction from the media and can keep his focus on improving his performance on both ends of the floor. Being named as an NBA All-Star will be very beneficial for Russell, as it will greatly help him in landing a huge contract in the 2019 NBA free agency.
Compared to the Lakers, D’Angelo Russell and the Nets have a higher chance of ending their playoff drought in the 2018-19 NBA season. The Lakers entered the All-Star break as the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference, while the Nets are currently sitting in the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 30-29 record.