Storyline: D'Angelo Russell Trade

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Kenny Atkinson: it’s a great second opportunity for D’Angelo. When i talked to him immediately after the trade, I felt like he was so enthusiastic. Luke [Walton] is a helluva coach, but I thought he was just looking for a fresh start. So we’re like a fresh program, fresh start, and I really hope that can jumpstart him.”

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The Lakers technically have until Thursday’s trade deadline to make any more moves to their roster. But hours after Lakers president Jeanie Buss named him the president of basketball operations, Johnson called the Lakers’ young core “untouchable.” “That’s good to hear, honestly,” second-year guard D’Angelo Russell said. “With everybody getting traded and everything happening, you’re walking around looking over your shoulder because you don’t have a clue what’s going on. Some things you can’t control. So that’s good to hear.”

Indeed, it looks like there will be a good deal of time. That’s because the Lakers are not moving any of the three, even as we enter the silly season of NBA trade discussions. According to league sources, the Lakers have not included any of the three into trade discussions, and do not figure to change that. They’re unlikely to consider moves involving their two other young role players, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., who figure to be key parts of the rotation in the near future.

Most encouraging, though, has been the way that Ingram has begun to break through, scoring in double digits in each of his past four games and shooting 50 percent or better from the field in five straight. Ingram is loaded with talent, and sometimes displays so much versatility that he doesn’t know on which area of his game he should focus. But, the scout said, “He is probably going to be the best of the three. When you look at his physical assets and what he is capable of just from a raw potential perspective, the sky is the limit. He has to be developed; that’s obvious. He looks to me like he is learning to assert himself more out on the floor. He’s got to figure out where he fits between Randle and Russell. But they’re so young, there will be plenty of time to make that smoother.”

According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, it’s possible that they pass on Ingram and it’s also possible that they trade Russell for another pick. “I think we all assume that Ingram’s going to be the guy at No. 2, but they’ve brought in Marquese Chriss, they’ve taken a long look at him,” Ford said in a SportsCenter appearance. “They’ve brought in Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown, and while I still believe that it will be Ingram at No. 2, the Lakers have explored other options. And again I think the concern with Ingram is his lack of strength and how NBA-ready he’s going to be because of that. I think more likely the Lakers are trying to pick up another pick in this draft in the top five and the guy that they have that they can shop is D’Angelo Russell, a guy who was their No. 2 pick in the draft last year but burned some bridges in the locker room.”

Then the walls almost completely caved in on Russell. A video surfaced on social media of Russell recording a private conversation with teammate Nick Young in which Russell is asking Young questions about being with other women besides fiancé Iggy Azalea. Looking back, Russell knows how much he endured. “I’m glad it all happened. Honestly,” Russell said. “I’m glad I went through all those — I don’t know — all those adversities, different sets of adversities. I think it shows your true character. It’ll only make me stronger.”

The Lakers are not happy that Russell has cast the franchise in this light now—and there are those in the organization fearful that he has made himself another hurdle to be overcome in the franchise’s effort to add much-needed, proven free-agent talent. But the club is not about to give up on him over this: a foolish, ill-conceived undertaking that was at least not malicious in intent. The Lakers believe in Russell’s talent and hope he learns a lesson the hard way about needing to be more professional. Russell has been glad to have another young teammate to experience off-the-court life with him in 23-year-old Jordan Clarkson, who got embroiled in his own controversy earlier this month—riding in the car with Young, actually

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently rebuilding. The storied franchise has brought in three promising young pieces to the puzzle over the past two years in D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson. All three of these players could be All-Stars in the making, but there’s no guarantee the trio will remain in Los Angeles long-term. According to Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports, the Lakers would trade parts of this trio to bring in superstar talent. Cowherd said the following about the rumored mindset of the Lakers brass regarding possibly trading the team’s talented young core on Thurs. Dec. 3 on The Herd: “The Lakers would trade three of them. They’d like to keep Julius Randle. They’d move the other three to rebuild it with multiple free agents and Randle’s the only one they really truly believe is ready very quickly to be on a really good NBA team.”
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