From the time the Warriors acquired D’Angelo Russell in the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade, many around the league have been operating under the assumption that the Dubs would deal Russell once they were eligible to do so.
“It’s just going to come down to when they want to do it,” one executive tells Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “Could do it now. Could do it later. But they’ll do it.”
The majority of offseason signings will be eligible for a trade on December 15 (sign-and-trades like the acquisition of Russell count as a signing) and leading up to that date, one might suspect the Warriors to already be in the process of parsing the market.
However, Deveney hears that Golden State has been quiet with regard to Russell negotiations with other clubs. One rival GM doesn’t believe the Warriors are pushing for a deal.
“If it is something that they’re going to do quickly, like before the end of this month, I wouldn’t say they’re pushing for it,” one general manager said. “Maybe they have a deal in mind, maybe they’re sitting on something and laying low. But I’d be surprised. That’s not how they’d approach it, I’d think. You want to create a market if you are going to trade a player like him, you want to pit teams against each other, drive up the price. You don’t want to lock into one deal. But the market thing, that’s not really happening yet. They’re not pushing the market for him.”
Russell has struggled to stay on the court, as various injuries have limited him to just 11 games. When he has been able to suit up, he’s impressed. Russell is averaging 23.7 points per game, he’s sporting a career-high 21.6 player efficiency rating, and he leads the Warriors in NBA Math’s Total Points Added despite many of his teammates playing twice as many games as him.
It’s likely that the lack of trade talks between the Warriors and other teams doesn’t reflect a lack of interest from rivals. The franchise, which is expected to land a top pick in the 2020 draft, could be planning to keep Russell for the season and then package the point guard with the likely top-five selection for a star via trade since adding a rookie to the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green wouldn’t exactly mesh timeline-wise.
Then again, the team could keep Russell and head into next season with a three-guard rotation that is unmatched by any around the league. Deveney writes that the Warriors have let it slip that this could be their approach in talks with rival teams, though one GM says that is likely a “smokescreen” intended to make the Warriors look less eager to trade Russell.
The Wolves are among the teams expected to pursue a Russell trade. Minnesota went after him in free agency. Perhaps a package that includes Robert Covington could entice Bob Myers and Golden State’s front office.
Russell is in the first year of the four-year, max deal he inked this past offseason. Where he finishes that contract is anyone’s guess.