Lakers expect D’Angelo Russell to be ‘extremely fired up’ to face former team
By Bill Oram
PORTLAND — Jordan Clarkson twirled his wispy beard into little points as he reflected on the trade that rebooted a rebuild and sent D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn.
Why did things go so wrong between the Lakers and their former No. 2 overall pick?
“I really don’t know,” Clarkson said. “I feel like it just wasn’t the right fit for him, to be honest with you.”
Russell will return to Staples Center on Friday when the Lakers host the Nets (3-5). Through seven games, he is averaging a career-high 21.7 points per game and looking every bit the player the Lakers hoped he would become.
“You see him right now in Brooklyn, he’s cooking,” Clarkson said. “He’s balling. … He’s got a new home, feel like it’s the right fit for him. He’s able to create, score, have the ball in his hands a lot, play the style of play that he wants to.”
The Lakers gave up on him after just 143 games, shipping him along with Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez and the draft pick that became Kyle Kuzma. It was a decisive end to a turbulent tenure, one that hit its low point in March 2016 when a video recorded by Russell showed teammate Nick Young discussing relationships with women other than his fiancée became public.
Forward Julius Randle said he assumed the Lakers would move forward with Russell and Lonzo Ball sharing the backcourt. However, many within the Lakers organization had soured on Russell due to his attitude and work ethic, making it easier to include him in a deal to shed Mozgov’s contract.
“It kind of caught me off guard,” Larry Nance Jr. said, “but at the same time it seems to be beneficial both ways.”
Clarkson, who said Russell lived “damn near next door to me,” was probably closer to the […]