Los Angeles Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell reportedly has lost trust from his teammates in light of the release of a video showing the guard taping a conversation he had with Nick Young, per Baxter Holmes and Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
As a result, there are already discussions Los Angeles could move the former No. 2 overall pick if the right deal arose.
Continue for updates.
Celtics Reportedly Have Pieces to "Pique the Lakers' Interest"
Wednesday, March 30
According to Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, one league executive thinks the Boston Celtics could put together a package that would intrigue the Lakers enough to possibly trade Russell. The executive explained the mindset in a text message to Blakely.
“All those picks and young players Boston has, they could probably put a package together that would at least pique the Lakers’ interest. But do the Lakers want to move him over something like this? I don’t think so. But hey, stranger things have happened,” the message read.
Even if the Celtics do have the pieces to trade for Russell, the fact the playmaking guard is already possibly available less than a season after he was drafted says plenty about the state of the Los Angeles locker room.
Blakely described the contents of the video, which showed Young talking about “hooking up with a 19-year-old and not getting together with Amber Rose because ‘she knows my girl.’”
The “girl” he was referring to is his fiance, pop singer Iggy Azalea, who reacted to the drama on Twitter:
Holmes and Stein noted the tension among the Lakers after the video’s release was a contributing factor in the team’s disastrous 48-point loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday night. The deficit tied the franchise record for its worst loss, and Holmes and Stein cited sources who said “various Lakers officials are dismayed with Russell.”
This is far from the first time an authority figure with the Lakers has been seemingly upset with Russell. Head coach Byron Scott has publicly commented on the guard on numerous occasions and has altered his playing time throughout the season.
Scott remarked on Russell’s “playfulness” and his tendency to lose some focus on Feb. 11, per Holmes. Scott also said, “He’s such a kid. I told him the other day, ‘You’re 19 but sometimes I think you’re 14,’” per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times in February.
With Scott’s frustration and the recorded conversation between Russell and Young—and the resultant chemistry problems serving as a backdrop—it makes sense why the Lakers would at least explore trading the rookie.
The young Celtics are the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as of Wednesday and could use someone with his skill set. Although they don’t have someone many across the league would consider a bona fide superstar, they have a number of impressive pieces in Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner.
Russell may have some baggage in light of his recent incident, but it is impossible to ignore his potential. He is only 20 years old and averaging 13.1 points and 3.4 assists per night as someone with notable court vision and the ability to hit from three-point range.
Perhaps a change of scenery and the opportunity to get away from the teammates who reportedly don’t trust him and the coach who consistently criticized him this season would be for the best for the former Ohio State Buckeye. Boston coach Brad Stevens is widely considered a rising star in the coaching ranks and could foster a healthier environment for Russell to thrive in as he eventually hits his prime.
Ben Dowsett of Basketball Insiders called Stevens an “Elite Coach and Boston’s Safest Asset” in a headline and pointed out it is the coach’s “connection with his players that sets the baseline for success” even though his “tactical acumen is beyond reproach.”
If Russell joined a team with someone like that at the helm, he could theoretically turn into a star with a handful of productive complementary pieces around him.
Blakely said the Celtics would likely have to include Smart and some type of pick compensation in any trade for Russell. Smart is known across the league as a formidable defender, but Blakely called Russell “a better scorer.” The rookie also has that sky-high potential that has to be intriguing for the Celtics (and plenty of other teams across the league).
Russell may be in the news for less than ideal reasons on Wednesday, but the incident with Young could turn into a mere footnote in his career if he lives up to expectations. If he does that in Boston, it could help the Celtics transform from playoff contenders to title threats in the next few years.