While D’Angelo Russell ultimately landed with the Warriors in free agency as part of a complicated sign-and-trade deal involving Kevin Durant, reports at the time indicated that the Timberwolves made the All-Star point guard their top offseason priority. Anthony Slater of The Athletic confirms as much in an in-depth piece on Russell, citing sources who say Minnesota’s initial offer to Russell was worth about $107MM over four years.
The Wolves and Warriors were two of three serious bidders in the mix for Russell, according to Slater. The Lakers were also in play and would potentially have been willing to make an offer in the $100MM range, but were in a holding pattern as they pursued Kawhi Leonard.
Minnesota “desperately wanted” to pair Russell with Karl-Anthony Towns and had spent much of June planning their recruiting pitch for the 23-year-old, Slater writes. However, when the Warriors put a maximum-salary ($117MM) offer on the table for D-Lo near the start of free agency, it didn’t take him long to choose Golden State.
As Slater details, word of Russell’s tentative agreement with the Dubs broke when D-Lo was being transported back via helicopter from his meeting with the Wolves. “The mood in the cabin changed” when that news came out, Slater writes.
“An awkward goodbye on the tarmac,” a source told The Athletic.
In addition to the fact that the Warriors’ offer was more lucrative financially, Russell was intrigued by the idea of teaming up with two potential Hall-of-Famers like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Speaking to Slater, Russell said he was excited about the idea of getting to “take a year and just learn from all these guys” — he caught himself when he realized he was talking as if expecting a trade.
“Well, we signed a four-year deal,” Russell said. “Hopefully, four years.”
According to Slater, Russell would like to remain with the Warriors for the entirety of his contract, but recognizes the team faces certain roster and cap constraints and knows nothing is guaranteed.
“Yeah, you know, that’s what sucks more than anything,” Russell said of not being able to settle in for the long-term. “Like, it sucks more than anything. That’s kind of what I’m doing now though. I’m kind of just putting two feet into the house that I’m in now.
“… I can’t control if (Warriors president of basketball operations) Bob Myers is like, yo, let’s go get such and such for this and make this pick,” D-Lo added. “That’s his job. I can’t control it or say anything about it, especially if I’m a part of it. So I don’t waste energy worrying about it.”