The Los Angeles Lakers were able to pull off the move that fans had been dreaming of for months. Los Angeles shipped out Russell Westbrook at the trade deadline and brought in three young rotation players for the cost of just one (protected) first-round pick.
The biggest name coming back to Los Angeles in the deal was D’Angelo Russell, who is already making his mark in the purple and gold. While it is really easy to get excited about a fresh face in LA, there are still some concerns around Russell and his game. After all, if the Timberwolves were willing to move him for almost nothing then there has to be something there.
It goes deeper than the Timberwolves just being willing to move Russell, though. Not only was the team willing to move the former all-star, but it also was reportedly never considering a contract extension. For a 26-year-old who arguably has not even peaked yet, that is a concerning sign.
Minnesota reporter Darren Wolfson confirmed this to be the case on ‘The Scoop w/ Doogie’ podcast:
"“Now that (D’Angelo) Russell is gone, he’s in LA, just know this: Tim Connelly never wanted to extend the impending free agent”."
Lakers should worry somewhat about how the Timberwolves viewed D’Angelo Russell.
There are a lot of things you can learn about a player based on how willing his team is to move on from him. For example, Bones Hyland is an incredibly exciting young prospect in the NBA and he was only moved for two second-round picks by a contending team in the Denver Nuggets.
This seemed asinine at first but it became clear that Denver did not value Hyland as much as NBA fans and media did because of things we did (and did not) see. If your team actively wants to get rid of you, then there is probably something going on.
The Timberwolves are a young team that is looking to capitalize on this perceived window. They don’t magically get the cap space back by trading Russell as they are in a similar situation as the Lakers were with Russell Westbrook. Most teams would want to at least keep the asset in town, especially when said asset is 26 years old and a former all-star.
But not Minnesota. They wanted to get rid of Russell, and quite frankly, got rid of him for extremely cheap. Los Angeles should at least consider that when they head into new contract discussions with the former lottery pick this summer.
Remember the last time the Lakers made a trade with a team that was so excited to move off of their own player? That team was the Washington Wizards and that player was Westbrook. It shouldn’t be that bad, but the Lakers still need to be careful.