Lakers players hint at locker-room tension after D’Angelo Russell’s secret videotaping of Nick Young
Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell continued to be contrite Friday for secretly taping video of teammate Nick Young discussing interest in women that weren’t Young’s fiancée, rapper Iggy Azalea.
But Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson acknowledged it was a bit strained when Russell and Young were in the locker room at the same time. Forward Julius Randle said that things had been a “little awkward.”
Coach Byron Scott added that the healing process would be slow, “just like rebuilding a team.”
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Yeah, the big-picture ramifications are not good for the Lakers.
Young has two more years for $11.1 million left on his contract, including a player option in the second year for $5.7 million. Russell is still on his rookie contract and has one more guaranteed year at $5.3 million, followed by two one-year team options for $5.6 million and $7 million.
The Lakers tried to trade Young, 30, each of the last two seasons as his production dropped. There were no takers. They will likely try to find a home for him again this off-season, which won’t be easy with a player who didn’t even get off the bench in eight games last month.
To steal Randle’s phrase, this will be a little awkward if Young and Russell are teammates next season too. “Will they ever be buddy-buddies again? I don’t know but they do have to coexist as long as they’re both here and I think they can,” Scott said.
Russell, 20, showed some unexpected fire Friday when told that some former NBA players said a physical confrontation would have taken place in past generations in a situation like this.
In fact, Scott basically said it too. “All I can say is in our era, it probably would have been handled differently. And I’ll leave it at that,” he said.
How would Russell have reacted if Young took a swing at him?
“I’d get physical back,” Russell said. “It’s a point where you try to solve it the right way and I don’t know the words, but [if] there’s a sign of disrespect or violence is involved, sometimes you’ve got to let people feel you, you’ve got to let people know that, ‘If you disrespect this guy, you know you’ve got to bring it.’”
It didn’t get to that point. Some Lakers employees were privately relieved the happy-go-lucky Young didn’t take a swing at Russell after Russell apologized to him.
Not that Young is back to his jubilant self.
“He’s been a little bit more, I wouldn’t say standoffish, but he’s been probably a whole lot quieter than Nick normally is,” Scott said.
Besides the two main characters, Clarkson probably has the toughest role. He’s good friends with Young and Russell.
He’s talked to each of them separately.
“We’re just going to have to see how it works out, how they handle it,” Clarkson said. “There’s an elephant in the room, especially when those two guys [are] in the locker room. We felt it but D’Angelo handled it the right way. He looked us all in the eyes as men and apologized.”
Young didn’t talk to reporters Friday.
Russell said he understood that it would take a while for everybody to recover. “You can’t force peace,” he said. “You’ve got to let time deal with it.”
Bryant gets rest
Kobe Bryant lasted only nine minutes before leaving Wednesday’s game because of pain in his shoulders and knees.
There are seven games left in his 20-year career, including Sunday at home against Boston. He will have had four full days between games by the time of Sunday’s tipoff.
“I expect him to play until I hear differently,” Scott said.
Follow Mike Bresnahan on Facebook and @Mike_Bresnahan.
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