The Los Angeles Lakers had an extremely successful trade deadline. They shipped out Russell Westbrook in a move that netted them three quality rotational players in D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley.
Russell will now be playing for the Lakers for the second time in his career, as LA is the team that drafted him. In his first home game back in front of Lakers Nation, Russell was amped up. At one point in the game, he made a shot and mouthed, ‘Like I never left,’ to the crowd. After the game, he explained what that moment meant to him.
“Just embracing all those emotions,” Russell said via ESPN’s YouTube channel. “Not being nervous, not being anxious, not being any of that, just kind of embracing it with my own my own persona. I love those moments. I play for the fans that are fans of me. I always appreciate them, and when I have an opportunity to embrace it and go out of my way and do something like that, I always think of fans when I’m doing that, for sure.”
The star point guard expanded upon those thoughts further, noting that he’s embracing the moment for not just himself but for the fans as well.
“Just embrace it. Embracing it,” Russell said via ESPN’s YouTube channel. “Embracing all the emotions that you know may go into it for myself, for any fans of me out there that’s happy to have me back. Just embracing it.”
The Lakers picked up a win in Russell’s re-debut in LA, taking down the New Orleans Pelicans by a score of 120-102. Russell played a big part in the win, dropping 21 points, two rebounds, and seven assists against New Orleans on 5-of-12 shooting from the floor and 3-of-5 shooting from behind the three-point line.
LeBron James Praises New Lakers Additions
LA’s win over the Pelicans also marked the debut of their new Big 3 – LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell. With Vanderbilt and Beasley also in action, the entire Westbrook trade came to fruition. After the contest. James praised his new teammates, but noted that they are going to continue to build on the win.
“I think we’re going to continue to build off tonight,” James said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “And I think our skill sets all kind of fit each other. With Vando, and D-Lo, and Beas, three guys that just know how to play the game. We’re all just trying to get the ball popping, get the ball moving, have equal opportunity, and everybody’s trying to play to their advantage out on the floor. So, tonight, we had 32 assists, out starting lineup was at 9, 14, 22 assists in our star lineup. That’s huge. So we want to try to continue that going forward.”
D’Angelo Russell & Lakers Discussing Contract Extension
While Russell’s contract may be up at the end of the season, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that he and the Lakers have already begun talking about a contract extension.
“Both the Lakers and D’Angelo Russell have already expressed to each other an interest in starting conversations on a contract extension,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s NBA Countdown. “Russell could be a free agent this summer, but the Lakers traded for him — giving up as part of that package a first-round pick, two second-round picks — not to be a rental, but to be a solution at that point guard position. So expect D’Angelo Russell and the Lakers to really start engaging on those extension talks here in the next weeks and months into the offseason.”