D'Angelo Russell

Western Notes: Russell, D. Green, Korver, Zion

Winter weather played a factor in D’Angelo Russell‘s decision to choose the Warriors over the Timberwolves in free agency this summer, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

The Timberwolves initially appeared to have the upper hand, led by Karl-Anthony Towns, one of Russell’s best friends, and Pablo Prigioni, one of his favorite assistant coaches in Brooklyn. However, the Warriors swooped in on June 30 with a maximum-salary offer as part of a sign-and-trade involving Kevin Durant.

“I thought the opportunity here was amazing … ” Russell said of the Timberwolves on Friday. “But then when this (Warriors) opportunity came, the weather is way better, so that helped me. … I did my first winter in New York and that was tough. So to get the opportunity to go somewhere where it’s warm again, I think that played a major part in my plan.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors are still months away from getting Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back, but it appears Draymond Green is ready to return to the lineup. Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets that Green is “trending toward” returning on Monday vs. Utah after missing five games due to a torn ligament and small bone chip in his left index finger.
  • It was an eventful offseason for veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who was traded from the Jazz to the Grizzlies to the Suns, then was released by Phoenix before signing with Milwaukee. As Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune writes, Korver admitted he was surprised by the initial trade out of Utah. “Yeah, definitely caught me off-guard. Like I said, I’ve been traded a few times before — very rarely do you see it coming,” Korver said. “You know, the NBA is a beautiful job for a lot of reasons; living stability is not one of them.”
  • Pelicans fans anxiously awaiting Zion Williamson‘s debut will almost certainly have to wait until at least December, as head coach Alvin Gentry recently confirmed that a November return date would be “ambitious” (Twitter link via Andrew Lopez of ESPN). Williamson, who is recovering from meniscus surgery, said last week that his knee is “getting stronger day by day” and is confident he’ll still have plenty of opportunities to contribute over the course of the 82-game season, writes Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this post.

Warriors Notes: Future, Russell, Green, Looney

No matter how poorly this season turns out for the Warriors, the franchise is in good position for the future, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Golden State has seen a nightmarish run of injuries dating back to last year’s NBA Finals, and while none of the currently active players were on the roster last season, the situation gives the front office time to assess what they have before trying to jump back into title contention in 2020/21.

Windhorst notes that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are all in the prime of their careers and are under long-term contracts. In addition, the first-round pick the Warriors owe Brooklyn in 2020 is top-20 protected and seems in no danger of conveying. It could wind up high in the lottery and provide another building block for the future. Also, Golden State holds a $17MM trade exception from the Andre Iguodala deal that doesn’t expire until July 7, and the franchise has the top source of revenue in the league thanks to a new arena.

The team also has a prime trade asset in D’Angelo Russell, who becomes eligible to be dealt on December 15. Windhorst believes the Warriors can get another first-round pick and at least a role player for Russell, who is in position to be showcased once he returns from an ankle injury. He adds that if no deal can be reached by the trade deadline, Russell should keep his trade value for the summer.

Willie Cauley-Stein and Alec Burks, who signed with Golden State expecting to be part of a playoff team, suddenly look like valuable trade assets as well, Windhorst adds.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Golden State started three rookies for the third consecutive game tonight, and coach Steve Kerr told Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that the immediate focus will be on player development. “While we have guys out, we have to try to bring along our young players, help them develop and give them every opportunity to develop into rotation players, maybe even starters,” Kerr said. “If we can do that, that makes this a successful season or half season, however long it is. And we have a leg up when guys get healthy again.”
  • Green, who has a torn ligament in his left index finger, didn’t accompany the team on its current road trip, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. He won’t return to action until Monday at the earliest.
  • The Warriors are encouraged by the latest tests on Kevon Looney, who is undergoing treatment for a neuropathic condition, Slater adds (Twitter link). The team believes he will be able to play again this season, but he has been ruled out for the next two weeks.

Warriors Notes: Russell, Paschall, Iguodala, Heat

The Warriors‘ incredible misfortune with injuries provides the organization with an opportunity to work out some important issues before next season, writes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. At the top of the list is determining whether D’Angelo Russell is a long-term fit in the Golden State backcourt.

Russell was the Warriors’ top acquisition of the summer and the player they reached out to when they learned that Kevin Durant was headed to the Nets. He came at a high price, as a complicated sign-and-trade with Brooklyn imposed a hard cap and left the team with little maneuverability once injuries started to hit.

Russell was an All-Star last season, but didn’t get off to a strong start with his new team, Letourneau adds. He wasn’t comfortable in the Warriors’ motion offense and had the worst offensive rating through the first four games among 11 players who saw regular minutes. However, now that Curry is out for at least three months with a broken hand, Russell can run the high pick-and-rolls that he is more familiar with.

Russell’s greatest long-term value to the organization may be as a trade chip. If the front office decides he won’t fit in with Curry and Klay Thompson, Russell could be moved either at the deadline or next summer. He would likely bring back a collection of talent that could help a healthier Warriors team return to title contention in 2020/21.

 There’s more Warriors news to pass along:
  • Eric Paschall has been one of the few bright spots in a dismal start, Letourneau states in the same piece. The rookie big man out of Villanova has shown an ability to contribute on both ends of the court and may have an expanded role while Draymond Green is sidelined with a torn ligament in his finger. Letourneau notes that the Warriors have so much money invested in four players that they need to find second-round steals like Paschall to fill out the roster.
  • The Russell trade was doubly costly because the Warriors were forced to part with Andre Iguodala to open enough cap room to make the deal work, points out Douglas Farmer of Basketball Insiders. Iguodala could have helped stabilize a defense that has been among the league’s worst.
  • The Warriors could take a lesson in how to survive their decline from the Heat, suggests Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami had a four-year run of dominance, but fell on similar hard times after LeBron James left in 2014. “You’ve got to have the right veterans to kind of fill in the gaps and patch up the holes and keep guys together,” Udonis Haslem said. “It’s not necessarily always going to be on the court. Sometimes, you’ve got to control the locker room.”

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, D-Lo, Kyrie, Barrett

Having already extended Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry this month, the Raptors completed a third important contract extension today, according to a press release from the team. This deal wasn’t for a player, but rather for Alex McKechnie, who had been the team’s director of sports science and assistant coach.

McKechnie was widely credited for developing the load-management program that helped Kawhi Leonard stay healthy for the 2018/19 season, which paid off in a major way when the Raptors won their first championship in June. While it wasn’t enough to convince Leonard to stick around, McKechnie’s work – and reputation – could be an asset for the team in future free agent pitches, notes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

A former Lakers athletic performance coordinator, McKechnie received a promotion along with his extension, according to the Raptors. His new title is VP of player health and performance.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Speaking to Justin Termine of SiriusXM Radio (video link), D’Angelo Russell admitted that he got the sense early in the free agent process that he wouldn’t be returning to the Nets. “I never knew exactly,” Russell said (hat tip to NetsDaily). “[But] you work with these guys every day. You see the same players, you see the same coaching staff, you see the same trainers every day. So when they start to act a little different, you recognize it.”
  • Responding to an ESPN report that some Nets officials are concerned about Kyrie Irving‘s “mood swings,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said that – from his perspective – that notion is totally false (Twitter link via Ian Begley of SNY.tv).
  • It looks like it might be another long season for the Knicks, but rookie RJ Barrett at least provides some hope for the future, writes Frank Isola of The Athletic.
  • Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders explores whether the Celtics‘ four-year, $103MM+ investment in Jaylen Brown was worth the gamble.

And-Ones: Wade, China, Stoudemire, Contracts

Six months after retiring as a player, Dwyane Wade is employed in a new capacity. According to an official press release (via NBA.com), Wade has reached a multiyear, multi-platform agreement with WarnerMedia, and will become a basketball commentator for TNT this season.

In addition to appearing on the network’s NBA broadcasts, Wade will make studio appearances during Turner Sports’ and CBS Sports’ NCAA tournament coverage later in the season.

“I’m thrilled and grateful to be joining the WarnerMedia family with many exciting opportunities ahead,” Wade said in a statement. “I have great respect for TNT’s team of analysts and their longstanding commitment to quality sports coverage. After sixteen seasons in the NBA, I look forward to connecting with my fans in this new role and bringing my own perspective to the game I love.”

Here’s more from around the NBA and the rest of the basketball world:

  • Chinese state television didn’t air the NBA’s opening-night games on Tuesday, while Chinese streaming partner Tencent only showed the Lakers/Clippers game, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst. CCTV typically shows the league’s opening-night doubleheader, but Tuesday’s decision is a signal that the ongoing NBA/China controversy is far from settled. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this week that the league has “no choice but to engage” China, as Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal details.
  • Speaking of China, former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire has signed the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Assocation, according to reports from Roi Cohen of Sport5 and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter links).
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks provides some financial details on the rookie scale extensions signed on Monday, outlining (via Twitter) exactly how much bonus money is included in five of those deals. Marks also identifies four players who will receive increased partial guarantees as a result of remaining under contract with their respective teams through Wednesday (Twitter link). Those players are Christian Wood (Pistons), Jordan McRae (Wizards), Kendrick Nunn (Heat), and Trey Burke (Sixers).
  • In a conversation with Max Resetar of SLAM, good friends Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, and D’Angelo Russell joked about eventually teaming up. “When we’re all on the same team—I ain’t gonna tell you which team because I don’t know—we’re gonna do this again,” Russell said of the joint interview. While we probably shouldn’t assume the trio is destined to form a Big Three down the road, it’s worth noting that both Towns and Booker tried to recruit Russell to their respective teams when he was a free agent this summer.

Wolves Notes: Saunders, Teague, Free Agents, Towns

While the Timberwolves would like to return to the playoffs this season, the focus will be on building long-term success, head coach Ryan Saunders tells Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Last year’s 36-46 disappointment began with a chaotic training camp that opened amid a trade demand from Jimmy Butler and a public war with ownership and coach Tom Thibodeau. Saunders, who took over the team at midseason, says the road toward rebuilding will start with a much calmer camp.

“I think you need to look at it in different scopes and see where you are at certain points of the season,” he said. “We’re not looking to just get into the playoffs for one year. That’s not our goal. And we understand that. So with that, you want to make sure you’re building for sustainable success. You want to make sure you’re doing the right things each day.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • This will be a pivotal season for Jeff Teague after he opted in for another year at $19MM, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Teague was a favorite of Thibodeau, who saw the point guard as a stabilizing presence on a team of veterans. However, he’s coming off the worst season of his 10-year career and doesn’t seem to be in the plans for the new management team, which tried to sign D’Angelo Russell in free agency and wanted to land Darius Garland in the draft. Teague hopes to be healthier after missing 40 games last season with a variety of injuries and undergoing ankle surgery in April.
  • The Wolves will have limited options to find a point guard on the free agent market next summer, observes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Kyle Lowry will be the top name on the list, but he’ll be 34 and won’t fit in with the team’s youth movement. Dejounte Murray could be a restricted free agent if he doesn’t reach an extension with the Spurs, but San Antonio is likely to match any offer sheet. Fred VanVleet could be available, but the Wolves would face a competitive market for him. Krawczynski adds that Minnesota may take another shot at Russell, trying to swing a deal with the Warriors in February if Klay Thompson is close to returning to action.
  • In a separate story, Krawczynski examines the questions surrounding every player on the Wolves’ roster heading into camp, including the importance of Karl-Anthony Towns becoming the team leader, whether Andrew Wiggins can fix his game and what newcomers Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell will bring.

Warriors Notes: Green, Durant, Curry, Russell

Draymond Green still considers Kevin Durant to be a close friend, despite their highly publicized confrontation last November and Durant’s decision to leave Golden State in free agency. In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that aired today on “The Jump” (video link), Green talks about the success they had with the Warriors and says he learned that Durant was joining the Nets at the same time everyone else did.

“He don’t owe it to me to tell me before everybody else,” Green said. “We did what we had to do. The thing that people forget about in this league is this is our lives. I’m not about to go to Kevin Durant and say, ‘Hey Kevin, can I get my fiancé pregnant?’ But that’s my life. I’m sorry but that’s my life. Am I supposed to come to you and A) Let you know that that’s what I wanna do? Or B) Ask you for permission? No. So I found out when everybody else found out, which is exactly how it should be.”

Green also said he talked to Durant yesterday and still thinks of him as “my brother.” He’s grateful for what they accomplished as teammates, including two titles and a loss in this year’s Finals, calling it “a major success.”

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Green also touched on the four-year, $99.7MM contract extension he signed last week. Although he might have earned more on the open market, he’s happy to be tied to the Warriors through the end of the 2023/24 season. He also considers it validation for the aggressive way he likes to play the game. “This contract tells you that all the garbage that you tried to say about me — arguing with Kevin or about the things with Steve Kerr or about the suspension (in the 2016 NBA Finals) — it just tells you that there was a method to that madness,” Green said.
  • This summer’s roster upheaval has left Stephen Curry as the Warriors’ oldest player for the first time in his career, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. A few months ago, Curry was the fifth oldest, but the team parted with five players who were past their 30th birthday.
  • With D’Angelo Russell joining the league’s most celebrated backcourt, Curry tells Slater that a three-guard approach can be successful once Klay Thompson returns from a torn ACL. “You get creative on how you mix up matchups, create good offense throughout the entire game,” Curry said. “Even defensively, I know there’s a lot of talk about that, our size, but the competitive fire will come out and find ways to get it done on that end of the floor.”

D’Angelo Russell Talks Joining Warriors, Nets, Future

After a successful stint with the Nets in which he evolved into an NBA All-Star, D’Angelo Russell is now preparing to join the third team of his young career. With the departure of Kevin Durant, the Warriors had the opportunity to acquire the 23-year-old point guard as part of a sign-and-trade.

HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy caught up with Russell to discuss the next chapter of his career. The former Laker weighed in on the chance to share the court with the Warriors’ championship core, his Nets tenure and how he hopes to improve.

Check out some of Russell’s comments below:

The opportunity to share the court with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson

“I think it’s like a video game. You got three guys who can shoot the three at a high clip. I think that’s really exciting for the fans. Threes are obviously worth more than twos at the end of the day, so I think it gives us an opportunity to win. I’m so excited, and I think we’re going to bring a lot of excitement [to the fans].”

What he can learn in the new environment…

“I think this situation gives me an opportunity to be a sponge. I can learn a lot from everyone: a Hall of Fame coach – one of the winningest coaches ever – and from three different players who are Hall of Famers. It’s cool, man. This is a Hall of Fame organization that I get to a part of.”

How being in Brooklyn helped him develop…

“It was all about having that opportunity. I had the opportunity to be me on the court. I give a lot of credit to the [Nets’] coaching staff for allowing me to be me and to really thrive. I really appreciate that opportunity.”

Pacific Notes: Davis, Lee, Russell, Rivers

Lakers power forward Anthony Davis says he’s never failed at anything and is confident he’ll win a championship during his career, as he told ESPN personality Sarah Spain in a story relayed by Dave McMenamin. “If I don’t win a championship that would be, I would feel that’s one of my biggest failures. But right now, I still have a lot to do in this world on and off the court,” Davis said. “So I don’t feel like I’ve failed in anything. I think I just continue to do it over until I succeed at it.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors swingman Damion Lee will likely have a greater role than a typical two-way player, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. Beyond D’Angelo Russell, Klay Thompson‘s replacement as he mends from an ACL tear, the Warriors have an unimposing group of wings that include Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, Jacob Evans, Alfonzo McKinnie, Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. That puts Lee in position to fill a role as a floor spacer, Slater notes. Lee agreed to a two-way deal on Sunday.
  • Money was a major factor in Russell’s free agent decision, as his former Nets teammate and new Lakers forward Jared Dudley told Ethan Strauss of The Athletic. Russell received four years and approximately $117MM in a sign-and-trade that raised some eyebrows since he’ll have to move to shooting guard with the Warriors. “D’Angelo wanted to get the max. So I’m not surprised,” Dudley said. “He would’ve gone to, you know, Saudi Arabia, if he could have gotten the max there. I’m not surprised he took that.”
  • With the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Clippers coach Doc Rivers feels like he’s been given another chance to win a ring, as he told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Rivers’ club repeatedly came up short during the Chris PaulBlake Griffin era with the franchise. “I view this as another opportunity to win it,” he said. “And let’s be honest: You don’t have a lot of opportunities to actually win it. When you have that, you take advantage of it.”

Pacific Notes: Ballmer, Wright, West, Warriors

Steve Ballmer’s actions over the past year should end any speculation that he has a long-term strategy to move the Clippers to Seattle, writes Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times. Ballmer has strong ties to the Pacific Northwest, where he made his fortune as CEO of Microsoft. He tried to buy the SuperSonics in 2008 and had a deal in place to move the Kings to Seattle in 2013 before it fell through.

However, Ballmer recognizes that the Clippers would drop in value if they were moved from the nation’s second-largest media market and has been taking steps to ensure their long-term future in Los Angeles. The team formally announced plans Thursday for a new 18,500-seat arena in Inglewood that will be built without public money. Ballmer also approved two bold moves this summer to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, making the Clippers legitimate contenders for the NBA title.

“We’re not moving the team to Seattle,” Ballmer declared recently. “We’re building a new billion-dollar-plus home in Inglewood.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers made an addition to their coaching staff this week by hiring Todd Wright, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Wright served as head of strength and conditioning as well as an assistant coach for the Sixers for the past four seasons.
  • The Lakers will part with director of player personnel Ryan West, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link). The son of NBA legend Jerry West had been with the team since he was hired as a scout in 2009 and is given credit for identifying D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson in their respective drafts. West’s departure was a mutual decision that was reached in the past few days, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. His contract had expired and he and the organization agreed that he had “reached a ceiling” in his current role.
  • Salary cap expert David Kelly, who serves as general counsel for the Warriors, shares his perspective on an eventful offseason with Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Klay Thompson had assured Golden State officials that he was staying, which eliminated one worry when they got official notice that Kevin Durant was leaving for the Nets. The focus immediately shifted to Russell, whom the team had targeted as a potential option several months before. Kelly had to work through a complex series of maneuvers before a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn could be legally completed.