D’Angelo Russell reveals his dogged mindset as family was ‘panicking’ when Lakers were considering trading him

Jesse Cinquini
5 Min Read
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell admitted that his friends and family were worried amid rumors that the team was considering dealing him.

“Honestly, everybody around me, like my friends, my family, they were kinda panicking a little bit, panicking for me,” Russell told FOX Sports. “And I kinda just never let my mind go there. For me, it was wake up, come to work. I just kinda stayed in that moment. It allowed me to catch a vibe, just flow through basketball, you know.”

Russell said that he had a carefree attitude about the possibility that he would be dealt prior to the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“I never played to not get traded,” he said. “I was just kinda like, f— it. And that ‘f— it’ allowed me to play my game.”

The guard also credited his recent stretch of productive basketball to the idea that he doesn’t get too hung up on what his shooting percentages are.

“Guys come in, they care about their percentages, they care about all this stuff and then they struggle,” he said. “As soon as I stopped caring about it, I played my best basketball of my career.”

Fortunately for Lakers fans, Russell is seemingly enthusiastic about still being a member of the storied franchise.

“Hell yeah,” he said on the notion of remaining with the Lakers. “I’ve been enjoying it. The energy is good. I enjoy being in L.A. But I wanted to be somewhere I’m wanted. So, for me, if they don’t want me, I’m cool. I’ll go. I’ll play in Detroit, to be honest. Like, I just want to be wanted. But yeah, I definitely wanted to be here.”

He continued to talk about his fit on the court with the Lakers’ two best players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“You’ve got to complement [James and Davis] by being aggressive,” he said. “So that was just my focus when I came back. It worked out, I guess.”

Finally, the 27-year-old thought he was overthinking earlier on in his second stint in Los Angeles.

“Early, I was kinda trying to figure it out around these guys and that may have not been the best way to do it,” he said. “But, I know I’m at my best when I don’t think. And next to these guys, you’ve got to think. But me, I’m a high-IQ basketball player, so the more I don’t think, the better I am.”

Russell’s “strong play” of late was reportedly the reason why the rumors of Dejounte Murray heading to the Lakers died down leading up to the trade deadline.

The guard has starred for the Lakers in the month of February, considering he is averaging 20.3 points, 8.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting an efficient 42.0 percent from 3-point range.

In the Lakers’ final regular-season game before the All-Star break against the Utah Jazz on Feb. 14, Russell had his worst scoring performance of the month. He scored just 11 points on eight shot attempts from the field.

But on the other hand, the point guard also had arguably his best game of the 2023-24 regular season from a playmaking standpoint. He dished out a career-high 17 assists in the Lakers’ 16-point victory compared to just two turnovers.

Here’s to hoping that Russell will be able to carry over his terrific play since the start of the new year into the tail end of the regular season and beyond. His next chance to take the floor for the Lakers won’t come until the team plays the Golden State Warriors on the road on Feb. 22.

Share This Article
Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.