D’Angelo Russell’s Blunt Reaction To Lakers Benching Him

D’Angelo Russell’s Blunt Reaction To Lakers Benching Him

D’Angelo Russell initially looked to be a star-in-the-making when the Los Angeles Lakers acquired him at the NBA Trade Deadline this past season.

Over the course of 17 regular season games the 27-year-old averaged 17.4 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting. He also connected on 41.4 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and dished out 6.1 assists per outing.

For a while there it seemed guaranteed that Russell would earn himself a big contract to remain in L.A. come the offseason.

Then the playoffs happened. In the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets, Russell saw his shooting numbers drop to 32.3 percent from the field and 13.3 percent from beyond the arc.

His 6.3 points per game coupled with his porous defense led to Denver exploiting Russell nonstop. At one point, both the opposition’s coaches and players openly mocked him over it.

Eventually, ahead of Game 4 of that series, the Lakers benched Russell. It didn’t matter and the team got swept anyway, but the move definitely left an impression.

“I mean, it was tough,” Russell said during his exit interview.

“It was tough to agree with it obviously, but in a short period of time to not become a distraction to your teammates and to everybody else that’s preparing just like you to get the one goal done which is win.

“I knew that was where you had to be professional. You can’t be a distraction at this point of the season and things like that, so that’s kind of how I went about it. I wanted to be professional and try to dominate my minutes when there were minutes for me.”

The Lakers have made it clear that they will not offer Russell any sort of max-level deal this summer. That has opened the path for any one of four other NBA teams to steal him away.

Whether any of them actually will or not remains to be seen.

Either way, Russell is facing a lot of uncertainty this summer.

His future is very much in doubt.

Will Russell still be with the Lakers come the beginning of the 2023-24 NBA season? One way or another, an answer will emerge soon enough.

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Jennifer Withers Hoey

Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.
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