For D’Angelo Russell, getting traded from the Lakers to the Nets in 2017 was a blessing in disguise. Russell has excelled with the team this season, leading the Nets in points, assists and minutes played through 59 games so far.
“I came here with open arms,” Russell said, as relayed by Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report. “I always knew I could do what I’m doing, it’s just all about opportunity in this league. For [Nets GM] Sean Marks and those guys to come get me and make it happen here, give me the opportunity to help myself thrive, I think it was more than necessary.”
Russell, who has held averages of 20.3 points, 6.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game in his first All-Star season, then went on to call the trade the “best thing that happened” in his career.
The Lakers, of course, moved Russell to Brooklyn as part of a salary dump that included the contract of Timofey Mozgov, and saw several of their young players featured in rumors around the trade deadline this month.
“I can’t imagine what they’re trying to block out,” Russell said, later adding, “if [the Lakers] didn’t let me go then, they were gonna let me go now, and I’d be going through what they’re going through. Best thing that happened in my career.”
Russell understood why the Lakers made the move, but immediately became motivated to lead a team in Brooklyn. The Nets now hold the sixth-best record in the East at 30-29, surprising many league observers and fans with their success.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:
- Every NBA team except the Knicks scouted Giannis Antetokounmpo as a prospect in Greece, according to Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “Scouts started flying to Greece,” Antetokounmpo’s agent Giorgos Panou said. “Every day at practice, at games, executives, GMs, assistant coaches — every team came. Twenty-nine teams, except the Knicks, New York Knicks.” The Knicks have since refuted this claim, as relayed by ESPN’s Ian Begley (Twitter link).
- Speaking of the Knicks, Emmanuel Mudiay is unsure of his current role with the team’s new rotation, Marc Berman writes for The Post. New York traded for starting point guard Dennis Smith Jr. earlier in the month, likely taking minutes away from Mudiay. “That’s out of my control,’’ Mudiay said. “That’s something you have to ask [coach] Fiz. I’m going to support my teammates.”
- Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will be joined by team physical therapist Brian Dolan and personal trainer Robin Pound during the All-Star break in Charlotte, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes. Irving will continue rehab from a strained right knee suffered against the Clippers last Saturday, but his status for Sunday’s All-Star Game with Team LeBron has yet to be announced.