D’Angelo Russell: “It Was Tough To Agree With” Move To Bench

D’Angelo Russell didn’t complain about being moved to a reserve role for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, but he also didn’t support the decision, according to Matt Peralta of Lakers Nation.

Coach Darvin Ham made the change in hopes of sparking the Lakers, who were trailing 3-0 in the series. Russell saw just 15 minutes off the bench in the final game — scoring four points with two rebounds and two assists — as L.A. was swept out of the playoffs.

“I mean, it was tough,” Russell said. “It was tough to agree with it obviously, but in a short period of time to not become a distraction to your teammates and to everybody else that’s preparing just like you to get the one goal done which is win. I knew that was where you had to be professional. You can’t be a distraction at this point of the season and things like that, so that’s kind of how I went about it. I wanted to be professional and try to dominate my minutes when there were minutes for me.”

Russell fit in well with the Lakers after being acquired from Minnesota in February, and he was effective in the first two rounds of the playoffs. He was never able to find his shot against Denver though, connecting at just 32.3% from the field in the series. The Nuggets also targeted him relentlessly on defense.

Fans and the media were calling for Ham to pull Russell out of the starting lineup earlier, but a report last week said there were concerns that the team might “lose” Russell if that happened, meaning he could become possibly become disconnected from the team ahead of free agency.

Russell will be unrestricted this summer after making $31.4MM this season. He is eligible for an extension through June 30 worth up to $67.5MM over two years, but the Lakers don’t appear to be willing to approach that number.

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