clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lakers’ obsession with D’Angelo Russell ... Do they protest too much?

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Magic Johnson dissed him after trading him to the Nets. All-star talent but not a leader like Lonzo Ball, he said ... unsolicited .

A few weeks before that, Bryon Scott, in an interview pushing his memoirs, trashed his work ethic as a teen-ager (after ostracizing him following the Nick Young Snapchat incident). Writers who covered the Lakers called him self-aggrandizing and worse after he left.

He is, of course, D’Angelo Russell and the Lakers’ obsession with him apparently continues and knows no bounds, seven months after he last played for them.

Here’s the latest. It’s a Facebook video of a Laker shootaround where assistant (and failed Nuggets head coach) Brian Shaw bad mouthing DLo to his former Magic teammate Dennis Scott.

Shaw didn’t realize he was still being recorded. A Laker fan on Reddit spotted it and recorded the video before the NBA took it down.

Unfortunate for Shaw. The back-and-forth went like this...

Scott: “It looks like they work, though, huh?”

Shaw: “Yeah, they do. They do. You know, like last year, we had D’Angelo. He was just bulls***ing all the time and didn’t put it in.”

Later, after a mumbled exchange, Scott can be heard saying, “Somebody didn’t do their homework.” Could that “somebody” dissed by Shaw and Scott be Sean Marks? (Like he cares.) It’s hard to tell, but one thing is certain. There is an east coast/west coast divide on Russell, who is after all averaging career highs in points (20.9) and assists (5.7) for Brooklyn.

The general manager and coach of the team that traded for Russell have repeatedly and on the record pronounced themselves big fans of the 21-year-old

When Russell underwent arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago, Atkinson said this about his point guard.

“He’s a positive, positive person, which I really enjoy being around. I talked to him today. I think like anybody that has a little injury, these guys at this level think, ‘I want to get back. I want to help the team.’ He talked about the game tonight and what we need to do. He’s engaged, he’s involved, hasn’t distanced himself. So, positive spirit, yes.”

Marks has been just as effusive. In late August, two months after the trade that brought him Brooklyn, the GM told Sirius XM radio this...

“The more I get to know D'Angelo, the more I like the person...

“I don’t know where his sort of ceiling is. We like his size. We like his passing ability. And the more I get to know D'Angelo, the more I like the person. We've spent a lot of time together and I think he fits with how we want to play. So we're excited there.”

It’s like the two front offices are talking about two different players. The Lakers’ obsession, as exemplified by the Shaw video has caused some writers to question what’s going on in L.A. As much as they all profess their love of Lonzo Ball (and lend a helping hand on his assist totals), there appears to be some echo of Shakespeare’s Hamlet out on the freeways. You know, the line about doth protesting too much?

As Ben Rohrbach wrote this week...

Russell failed the Lakers no more than they failed him, so maybe it’s time for the L.A. front office and coaching staff to stop bashing him publicly and privately.

Brian Lewis, picking up on Rohrbach, noted the same thing Saturday...

D’Angelo Russell hasn’t played a game for the Lakers since last April and is 3,000 miles away in Brooklyn, but his former team is still throwing shade at the 21-year-old guard.

Russell’s return from knee surgery still isn’t set. He did attend a college game at Barclays this weekend. No knee brace visible. And he’s on the Nets team plane as they make their way from Memphis to Houston to Dallas.

No doubt he’ll be long back by February 2, when the Lakers come to Brooklyn. Should be fun.