Just as Magic Johnson was calling out D’Angelo Russell as someone others don’t want to play with, one of Russell’s teammates told Alex Kennedy on the Hoopshype podcast, about his bond with Russell and his hopes for a rebirth in Brooklyn.
Larry Nance Jr., who was drafted in the same class as Russell and Julius Randle two years ago, described his reaction to the trade that sent Russell and Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez and a pick.
“It was tough. That’s another part you don’t necessarily think about. You’re like ‘Oh I want this guy and this guy, this guy, I’d love to play with that guy’ but you don’t really think who’s got to go in order for that to happen. With D’Angelo going, that’s the last guy remaining from my draft class with our team. Me and him kind of had a little bit of a bond there. Overall, just a really good teammate, really good guy, so I’m sad to see him go.
“Overall (he is), just a really good teammate, really good guy, so I’m sad to see him go, but at the same time, I hope he just tears it up in Brooklyn. I hope he averages 40, except when he plays us. He’s obviously shown he can shoot it, drive it, do what he needs to do. He’s a great passer and everything. I think he’ll have a lot of success in Brooklyn and be part of turning that thing around.”
Averaging 40 (or just scoring that much against the Lakers) would of course be sweet revenge for Johnson’s comment and a campaign of anonymous leaks regarding Russell’s character that started with Tuesday’s big news.
As our sister SB Nation blog, Silver Screen and Roll, has chronicled, it’s been nearly a daily occurrence.
Nance has been the most outspoken of Russell’s teammates since the trade news broke but at least one other young Laker, Ivaka Dubac, said the same thing.
Nance — who is legitimately one of the most genuine and nice athletes in the NBA — publicly wishing Russell well does not get rid of all the character concerns the Lakers and the rest of the league have about him, but it does at least show that he was well-liked by some of his teammates...
Expect a lot of questions Monday at the Nets press conference about this.