11:58am: Russell didn’t mean for the video to become public, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link) and Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding (video link). Russell posted the video to Snapchat and quickly deleted it, thinking no one would ever see it, according to Ding, but sources tell Kennedy that Russell’s Snapchat account was hacked.
8:44am: Lakers players are furious with D’Angelo Russell over what one team insider described as a prank gone wrong, report Baxter Holmes and Marc Stein of ESPN.com. 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 Holmes and Stein. It’s a disconcerting situation that builds on existing trust issues within the locker room, a team source told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com for the story.
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 levied the same criticisms even before the video. Team officials see the video controversy as an example of the 20-year-old rookie’s immaturity, writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, though a source told Bresnahan that Lakers players have been pulling pranks on each other throughout the season. Russell shot the video a couple of months ago, Bresnahan hears, but it didn’t surface publicly until the gossip website Fameolous.com posted it a few days ago.
Young and Russell were friends, with the swingman at times publicly sticking up for last year’s No. 2 overall pick, but sources who spoke with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News 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.
Young hasn’t played in the last 10 Lakers games, though the two most recent absences were because he was suffering from gastroenteritis. The first eight were coach’s decisions, with the ninth-year veteran suffering through a career-worst season. He’s under contract through 2017/18, though he can opt out in the summer of 2017. Russell is in the first season of a four-year rookie scale deal.