D’Angelo Russell, now an All-Star, traveled a path other young Lakers might face
Not many players remain from the Lakers teams on which D’Angelo Russell played. Brandon Ingram is one of two.
When he heard Russell was selected as an All-Star reserve, Ingram couldn’t have been happier for his former teammate.
“That’s an amazing accomplishment for him,” Ingram said. “Just through all the negative comments that’s been made about him and he just seems like he’s blocked it all out on the social media and everything else. He’s blocked it all out and he’s having a chance to just play his basketball game, get into his arsenal and do what’s best for his team. So congratulations to him.”
Russell is a player who can offer a roadmap for the young Lakers.
Russell was the second overall draft pick in 2015, the year before the Lakers selected Ingram second overall. Russell’s time with the Lakers was tempestuous. His first season was overshadowed by Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour. The Lakers consciously delayed their young players’ development for Bryant’s sake.
Russell’s second season didn’t convince the Lakers that he could be their point guard of the future. It didn’t help that the front office personnel who drafted him had been fired that year.
In June 2017, the Lakers traded him to the Brooklyn Nets for salary cap relief. The Nets took Russell and Timofey Mozgov, who had three years left on the four-year, $64-million contract the Lakers gave him in 2016. The Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball second overall that summer.
In the year and a half since then, the Lakers have rid themselves of every young player they acquired before the 2016 draft in service of chasing superstars.
Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for two players with expiring contracts that helped the Lakers make room to sign LeBron James and still have room for another maximum contract. They renounced the rights to Julius Randle last summer rather than pay Randle the kind of salary he had earned with his strong play last season.
“We kind of let you guys take care of that end,” Ingram said, when asked if players had discussed the trade talks. “We don’t discuss it. Whatever happens, happens. We can only control what we can control.”
For Ingram, Russell’s journey can serve as a lesson. But so can that of the other teammates he’s seen leave.
“Everybody’s different,” Ingram said. “Everybody has different situations. Julius is playing really well. Jordan Clarkson is playing really well. Larry Nance is playing really well. Everybody has different situations of opportunity and doing what they can do on the basketball floor. This is up to the players. It’s up to the players whether they can handle it mentally and come in mentally and physically and just handle whatever organization they can be at.”
McGee gets his ring
JaVale McGee missed the Lakers’ first trip to Oakland this season because he was fighting through pneumonia. Consequently, McGee was presented with his championship ring from last season before Saturday’s game by former Golden State Warriors teammate Andre Iguodala.
He received a standing ovation from the Oracle Arena crowd.
“It meant everything,” said McGee, who won championships in both of his seasons with the Warriors. “I mean it was a year of hard work coming off another year of hard work, so it meant a lot.”
He left the locker room after the game wearing one championship ring on a necklace and holding the other in a box.
Zubac injured his left middle finger during Saturday’s game. He had an X-ray on Saturday that was inconclusive and was scheduled to have an MRI on Sunday.
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