Stein: Warriors Will Trade D'Angelo Russell; 'It's Just a Matter of When'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2019

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson talks to guard D'Angelo Russell (1) during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, April 20, 2019, in New York. The 76ers won 112-108. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

The Golden State Warriors may have landed D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade deal to offset the loss of Kevin Durant, but that doesn't mean the All-Star guard is long for the Bay Area.

Marc Stein of the New York Times told B/R's Dan Patrick that the Warriors acquired Russell with the idea of trading him in the future.

"D'Angelo Russell doesn't fit there whatsoever," Stein said. "They just wanted to make sure they did not see Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the league when healthy, walk out the door for nothing. They got a 23-year-old All-Star, and they will trade him. It's just a matter of when."

From a pure logical standpoint, Stein's point is correct. The Warriors will likely begin the season with Russell in the starting 2 spot vacated by an injured Klay Thompson, and then assess their options when/if Thompson returns.

Thompson is expected to miss most (if not all) of the 2019-20 season after suffering a torn ACL during the NBA Finals. While he's re-signed to a five-year contract with the Warriors, his status for next season may depend on how the team fares without him.

Russell can play at the 2 spot and may find he's actually better suited for the role than as a lead ball-handler. The second pick in the 2015 NBA draft, Russell has played point guard his first four NBA seasons and set a career-high with 7.0 assists per game in 2018-19. However, a run in Golden State may help him embrace more off-ball work, improve his shot selection and help him build into a more well-rounded offensive player.

The Warriors likely appealed to Russell because of their major market and notoriety, along with the max-level contract. Russell's shoe deal is due to expire, and playing for a glitzy franchise may help Russell land a bigger endorsement deal.

That said, Russell is quickly racking up a reputation as a journeyman. Assuming the Warriors trade him by next summer, Russell will be on his fourth team at age 24. That's a surprising amount of miles for a player who by all accounts is exceedingly talented. 

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