D'Angelo Russell's breakup with the Lakers wasn't exactly a pretty one. After just two seasons with the team, he was traded to Brooklyn after a locker-room scandal derailed a tenure that was already in the shadows of Kobe Bryant's "farewell tour."
Just two seasons, D'Lo would cement himself as an All-Star for the Nets, before having stints with the Warriors and Timberwolves.
This past season, Russell averaged a career-high 23.1 points per game on 42% shooting.
Despite their past, it's no secret that Russell was on L.A.'s radar in 2019, and he definitely could have helped them now. It didn't happen and it seems unlikely it will ever happen. Still, the young point guard was kind enough to reflect on his time with the team, and why it is that it never worked out...
“With the Lakers situation, it probably would have went different if it wasn’t Kobe’s last year and I didn’t go through what I went through,” Russell said, via Ben Stinar of The Big Lead. “It’s L.A., a lot of dudes come and go out of that organization. But I’m just thinking I could have been a guy that’s still there that they would have said ‘Man, I don’t care what we do. He’s a part of the future.'”
Obviously, nobody blames the Lakers for celebrating the legendary career of Kobe Bryant. However, it is a fact that his "farewell tour" that year really hindered the growth and development of their younger players.
You add that alongside Russell's infamous videotaping controversy, and there was just too much damage for the partnership to continue.
Things might have gone differently had more of the focus been on D'Lo, and he might still be a Laker today. But with Lebron James and Anthony Davis, the Purple and Gold are doing well enough without him anyway.