Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell has reportedly upset the bulk of the team’s roster thanks to a prank gone terribly wrong. Teammates are ostracizing Russell, who recorded a private conversation in which Nick Young spoke about being with women other than his fiancee, the Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, according to a report by Baxter Holmes and Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Some within Lakers brass are upset with Russell, too, but they’ve left the matter to the players thus far, Holmes and Stein write. Coach Byron Scott has notoriously harped on Russell’s maturity, work ethic and attitude, and several team sources who spoke with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News had levied the same criticisms even before the video was exposed.
Young and Russell were friends, with the swingman at times publicly sticking up for the 2015 No. 2 overall pick, but sources who spoke with Medina believe the now-strained friendship is beyond repair. Young went out of his way to avoid crossing Russell’s path at Staples Center before Friday’s game, according to Medina. No Lakers would sit with Russell for a recent breakfast meeting, Holmes and Stein hear. Another time, Lou Williams stood up and walked away when Russell sat next to him in the locker room, according to Holmes and Stein.
The sanctity and privacy of the locker room is one of the most important unwritten rules in all of team sports. Athletes are under the microscope from media and fans almost constantly and the locker room is supposed to act as a buffer and a safe haven where players can be free to relax and be themselves. Russell’s actions, while likely not malicious in intent, definitely crossed a line, and it remains to be seen if the relationship between Russell and his teammates can be repaired.
Russell has had a difficult rookie campaign on the court as well, struggling to make the jump to the NBA as a point guard after one season at Ohio State. He’s appeared in 72 contests, including 40 as a starter, and is averaging 13.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists on the year. His play of late has shown improvement, but this rift between him and his teammates could set back the progress of the entire franchise. Chemistry and trust are vital to the success of any team, even more so between a point guard and his running mates, and if the rest of the Lakers are freezing him out off the court, it’s fair to wonder how this may impact the team in the long run.
This brings me to the topic for today: Should the Lakers look to trade D’Angelo Russell?
In all fairness to Russell, he is just 20 years old, which leaves him plenty of time to mature and grow as a person. The point guard certainly has a wealth of talent and has shown flashes of greatness on occasion this season, which bodes well for his future as a player, but it remains to be seen if his teammates will get over this act of betrayal. There may be serious personal consequences for Young, whose relationship could end over Russell’s clandestine video being made public. Regardless of what you think of Young’s actions in a moral sense, it wasn’t Russell’s place to reveal them to the world. The Lakers are a rebuilding team and many of their current players likely won’t be returning next season, so the current locker room dynamic may be altered as a result. But the question still remains as to how any new teammates will react to Russell and if it will hurt the franchise’s free agent recruiting efforts.
Now it’s time to turn the discussion over to you. Do you think that Los Angeles should part ways with Russell as a result of his actions? Or do you believe he is too valuable a player to trade? Will this scandal blow over, or do you think the Lakers’ locker room is irreparably broken? Take to the comments section to share your thoughts and opinions on the matter. We look forward to what you have to say.