So long, D’Angelo. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Okay, fine. Magic Johnson didn’t say that to point guard D’Angelo Russell (we think) when the former No. 2 overall draft pick was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week, ostensibly to make room for Lonzo Ball. Yet if we’re using Magic’s comments at a Friday news conference as a guide, the legendary Laker, who now has the run of things with that organization, may as well have.
Magic Johnson on D’Angelo Russell: "We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader.” Full quote: pic.twitter.com/3FhPthOpN1
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) June 23, 2017
Man, tell us how you really feel, Magic. So, yeah, this Ohio State product is an excellent player. Lots of talent. Perennial all-star. But oh by the way, he’s not a leader. His teammates didn’t want to play with him. He doesn’t make anyone else better. Yikes.
Read the above quote again and you’ll see there’s some wiggle room there. It’s more a strong implication than a direct shot. But it comes awfully close. Right up to the line.
This was a rip job. Russell, still just 21, had his issues with the Lakers, which were well publicized. But if his confidence wasn’t already shot after two woeful seasons in L.A., it may very well be now given Magic’s harsh commentary.
Or, maybe not. It’s entirely possible that Russell has already put his first two NBA years behind him and is ready to start really developing in Brooklyn, where he’ll both be given the keys to the car and, with Brook Lopez sent back to the Lakers in the same deal, the face of the franchise. From the looks of his Twitter account, he’s not exactly displeased with how things have gone down.
But still, wow. That’s just not nice at all on Magic’s part. And, as Silver Screen and Roll’s Harrison Faigen points out, Russell employs the same agent, Aaron Mintz, as Paul George, who could be a key to the Lakers fast-approaching rebuild. Think Mintz didn’t hear about this?
Magic may be the outward face of the Lakers’ operation as they attempt to reclaim some past glory. But he may want to let his hand-picked GM, Rob Pelinka, do the talking from here on out.