Magic Johnson Issues Surprising Statement on Lakers Trading for D’Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell

Getty D'Angelo Russell

Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson likes the addition of D’Angelo Russell, who began his career with the purple and gold.

The Lakers acquired Russell from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the trade deadline.

“I think D’Angelo has really grown and matured,” Johnson told Bryan Kalbrosky of For The Win. “He can score the basketball. He can pass the basketball. He doesn’t turn it over a lot. That’s what I like about him, too. That pick-and-roll with Anthony Davis is going to be special. You have to pick your poison for what you try to do whether it’s Russell coming off the PnR or Anthony Davis rolling to the basket and they’ll have some more time playing with LeBron. If the Lakers can get in, and I think they will, nobody is going to want to play them. That’s for sure.”

Russell was drafted by the Lakers as the second overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Ohio State. He averaged 14.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his first stint with the LakeShow, but Johnson traded Russell to the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2017 after Russell leaked a video of teammate Nick Young. Russell played two seasons with the Nets and turned into an All-Star, averaging 19.0 points and 6.3 assists across 129 games.

Brooklyn traded the floor general to the Golden State Warriors in 2019 in the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade deal. Russell played in 33 games with the Warriors before getting traded again, this time to the Timberwolves to play with Karl-Anthony Towns. D’Lo averaged 18.5 points and 6.5 assists with Minnesota and helped the franchise make the 2022 playoffs.

Now back with the Lakers again, Russell is eager to help the team make a playoff push during the second half of the season.

D’Angelo Russell: ‘I’m Not a Child’

Russell told reporters during his introductory news conference with the Lakers on February 10 that he’s not a child anymore and is more mature now, both on and off the court.

“I’m a grown man now,” Russell said. “I’m not a child. I’m just excited to showcase it. … I never hoped to be back here because I didn’t understand if I could be ready for it and be a part of what they were doing for the future because you never know what the team’s going to look like, so it’s hard to find stability in that. But I’m here now and I really appreciate being back because I feel like I’m ready for everything that’s about to come for the team and whatever comes my way.”

Russell is in the final season of a four-year, $117 million contract he signed in July 2019. The Lakers will have full Bird rights for Russell, who is averaging 17.3 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 45.0% from the field and 37.5% from beyond the arc in three games since the trade.

The Lakers & D’Angelo Russell Have Mutual Interest in a Contract Extension

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on February 15 that the Lakers and Russell have mutual interest in a contract extension. Russell becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.

“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 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.”

The Lakers are in 13th place in the Western Conference standings. They open the second half of the season at home against the Warriors.

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