D’Angelo Russell says Timberwolves held him back, expresses desire to stay with Lakers

Orel Dizon
4 Min Read

For the first time in his career, Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell has reached the second round of the playoffs.

His best scoring performance so far in his team’s second-round series against the Golden State Warriors came on Saturday, as he poured in 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting. For good measure, he also added five 3-pointers.

His aggressiveness on offense helped the Purple and Gold overcome the Warriors to go up 2-1 in the Western Conference semifinals with a chance to extend the lead in Game 4, which will be played at Crypto.com Arena on Monday.

It seems the former All-Star is thriving in his role in Los Angeles. Things didn’t seem to go as well with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Prior to Russell’s second tenure with the Lakers, he played for the Wolves, where he said he was “held back.”

“How much am I enjoying this?” Russell told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “I felt like I was held back there, honestly. I just kind of had to be the third option. Some nights, I was a little more aggressive and was kind of being held back. So to be in a position now where I can kind of thrive and be aggressive and it gets guys going, and where the team reflects off of anybody with that type of energy, it’s fun.”

The 2015 No. 2 pick put up respectable numbers in Minnesota, averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 assists per contest in 173 appearances. However, the perpetual uncertainties surrounding the organization exacted a toll on Russell.

Amick even asked him why he participated in a scrimmage with the Wolves’ bench players sometime in January even though he was a rotation player. Russell responded by using a metaphor of himself as a bird that couldn’t spread his wings.

“Oh, you saw that?” Russell replied. “Yeah, so I would play in that because I felt that my confidence was being taken away with the style that I was playing in. I’m a killer, man. I’m a bird that needs to fly, and I couldn’t really fly there. They put me in a box that I was successful in…but I did that for confidence. I enjoy just playing, and I would play some of my best games in that (run), because I didn’t really have a rhythm (in the real games). I had to kind of cater to guys. And respectfully, I was with it because we were winning. But I know what type of player I am.”

Fortunately for the Ohio State University product, his role with the Lakers appears to be clear, as head coach Darvin Ham has shown trust in him. Russell has repaid it by recording 16.7 points, 6.0 assists and 2.4 3-pointers per match while shooting 45.7 percent from the field in this year’s playoffs.

Whatever happens to the Lakers in the next weeks, Russell may have finally found a long-term home, as he expressed his desire to re-sign with the franchise once his current contract expires at the conclusion of this season.

“I would love to stay here, but I would have loved to be in Minnesota too,” he stated. “So wherever my feet are, that’s where I’m gonna be.”

It remains to be seen if he and the team can come to an agreement in the summer. For now, Russell is surely more focused on helping his team make it to the Western Conference Finals, something that seemed impossible earlier in the season.

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Orel is excited about the prospect of “Showtime Lakers” making a comeback, thanks to the presence of the King and the arrival of the Brow.