DLo: If you're not here or you haven’t lived here or anything, then youre not aware of how good of a city it is and a sports town, how committed fans are to their sports, things like that. So the city has a lot to offer. They treated me with great respect. Nothing bad to say 2/2
— Jace frederick (@JaceFrederick) March 31, 2023
Russell’s comments come just prior to his first game back in Minnesota since the Lakers acquired him in a three-way deal with the Timberwolves and Utah Jazz last month.
The trade has helped Russell come full circle since the 27-year-old veteran began his time in the NBA with the Lakers eight years ago. Back in 2015, he was the second overall selection by the Lakers, who were in the midst of a rebuilding program.
After only two years in which he struggled at times, the Lakers dealt him to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the trade for Kyle Kuzma. During his two years with the Nets, he showed signs of becoming a solid NBA performer.
In 2019, that stint came to an end when he was part of the sign-and-trade deal with the Golden State Warriors that sent Kevin Durant to the Nets.
That 2019-20 Warriors team was coming off the franchise’s fifth straight Western Conference championship. However, Durant’s departure, coupled with major injuries to guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, turned the season into a disaster.
By February 2020, Russell was dispatched to the Timberwolves and then dealt with different injuries that kept him off the court for periods of time. Yet, it appears that his time away helped him further his development as a human being.
Since joining the Lakers, Russell has started all 12 contests that he’s played in and has largely matched his production this season with that on the Timberwolves.
Russell’s praise of the Minnesota fans is likely to elicit some cheers from the Timberwolves’ fan base. While it seems likely that he’ll acknowledge those fans even if he’s unable to play, he and the Lakers will primarily be focused on simply winning the game.
That’s because the Lakers have just six games remaining and are currently a half-game behind the Timberwolves among Western Conference teams. That furious jockeying for a potential spot in the NBA’s play-in tournament next month has six teams battling for the four play-in spots.
Despite that pressure, Russell now appears able to better handle such challenges thanks to his time in the North Star State.