D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo

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D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo 

Post#1 » by RealGM Articles » Tue Jul 2, 2019 3:03 am

Ah yes, the Player Empowerment Era: where a guy can get dumped by the team that drafted him, make the best of his new surroundings, and then get shipped to a third franchise that doesn’t even want him. D’Angelo Russell got paid on Sunday evening, but that was always going to happen. When a 23-year-old guard averages 21 and 7, contract negotiations take only as long as the print job and the signatures do. The surprising thing is that, given the Nets weren’t interested in bringing Russell back, he wasn’t committing his future to the Mavericks or Timberwolves, youngish clubs that could use a pick and roll ace, but instead the Warriors, who perhaps never appeared in the same sentence as D’Angelo Russell before Bob Myers asked about acquiring him in a sign-and-trade once he knew Kevin Durant was headed to Brooklyn anyway.


It’s a move that makes sense for Golden State. They were set to lose Durant for nothing, and Russell is considerably better than nothing. Beyond that, this is in all likelihood an asset play rather than some avant garde on-court retooling. D’Angelo and Steph Curry overlap just about everywhere, except in areas where Steph is far superior, and Steve Kerr’s vertebrae rattle like wind chimes when he sees one of his big men set a screen at the top of the key. Marc Stein’s read on the situation feels correct: Russell’s ball-dominant stylings make him, at best, an awkward fit next to Curry, and he’s extremely likely to get traded again by the beginning of next season. He’s in San Francisco on an interim basis, to open the Chase Center, chip in some points in Klay Thompson’s absence, and yearn for a range life. 


This doesn’t seem fair to someone who was run out of Los Angeles by no less than the greatest point guard of all-time, considered a mild bust as recently as a year ago, and in his fourth year transformed himself into a star. There’s a conversation to be had about the sustainability of what was by far Russell’s best season as a pro—a lot of tough jumpers contributed to those scoring totals—but he was the primary creative force on a half-decent and wildly likeable squad. That’s a real accomplishment, and it marks either the ascendance of a bona fide star or the establishment of a pretty damn good player.


The Nets are moving on from Russell in favor of Kyrie Irving, a brighter and more proven talent who also functioned as the patchouli-stankin’ lure that brought Durant to Brooklyn. This is a fine decision to make, but very rarely do promising restricted free agents get rejected by their own teams. (Sometimes it’s the exact inverse. The player begs his franchise not to match an offer sheet and they retain him anyway.) Until Sunday, it was looking like D’Angelo would be afforded the privilege of picking his next team, a sort of serendipitous reward for the work he had put in to get his game all the way to the level it has now reached. There are worse fates than a precarious gig in Golden State, but Russell is wanted there for a dissatisfying reason. It’s not because the Warriors particularly like him, but because other front offices do.


Russell’s limbo status serves as a pretty strong argument against any grumbling about restless or fickle players. You’ll notice that the guys who have turned heel in a bad situation—Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler—have tended to be in their mid-to-late 20s, the age at which an NBA athlete finally has a significant say in where he’s allowed to play basketball. If Davis showing up to what he was trying to make sure was the final game of his Pelicans career in a “That’s All Folks!” t-shirt was hack and tasteless, it was also the culmination of spending seven years bound to a franchise that’s run by a dysfunctional family of football fans and has never been well-supported by its city. Davis wanted out in part because he never chose to be in. So when he got even a little bit of leverage, he scrambled to use it. You can blame him for being clumsy, but on a basic level, he was responding to his predicament rationally enough.


There’s no guarantee things would have worked out for D’Angelo Russell in Minnesota or Dallas or wherever else he might have wanted to go. Even with the benefit of unrestricted free agency, players sign deals that they end up regretting later on. But at least they do this to themselves. They make a commitment and then discover they’re not seeing enough of the ball, or the coach proves difficult to get along with, but that’s where the contract becomes a two-way street. In these cases, the franchise has every right to remind the player that they said they would be around for four seasons, even if things broke bad in the middle of the second one.


It’s still possible that Russell ends up getting traded somewhere he would have wanted to be anyway, and there’s a slim chance he and the Warriors fall in love with each other and he settles down in San Francisco. But there was a moment there where it looked like, for once, a 23-year-old All-Star was going to be permitted to set his own path. That sort of thing never happens. It didn’t this time either.

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Re: D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo 

Post#2 » by Biscayne Beast » Wed Jul 3, 2019 10:57 am

Doesn't he have to sign off on the sign & trade though?
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Re: D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo 

Post#3 » by Liberal » Wed Jul 3, 2019 11:20 am

Biscayne Beast wrote:Doesn't he have to sign off on the sign & trade though?
Yes he does, which makes all this talk pretty much pointless. He probably could've gotten the money elsewhere but imo preferred to play with Steph and Klay.

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Re: D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo 

Post#4 » by Airmax3D » Wed Jul 3, 2019 3:30 pm

Liberal wrote:
Biscayne Beast wrote:Doesn't he have to sign off on the sign & trade though?
Yes he does, which makes all this talk pretty much pointless. He probably could've gotten the money elsewhere but imo preferred to play with Steph and Klay.

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Exactly, people seem to think that He wasn't in control but He was. He agreed to re-sign with the Nets knowing He was being traded to GSW as part of the deal to bring in KD so He indeed chose his destination.
Now, maybe it even goes further than that where the Warriors might have "promised" him a way out after year 1 but this is speculation whereas the first scenario isn't.
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Re: D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo 

Post#5 » by watch1958 » Thu Jul 4, 2019 2:49 am

As the other posts have said, Russell could have gone and signed with whoever he wanted to. Seems like the article was written & submitted on a first draft. Interesting, but the argument falls apart.

A better approach would be to analyze why Russell agreed to it. Lots of reasons. It was basically no lose. No one is going to blame him if it is an awkward fit. How they will do things when Thompson comes back 70 games (at best) down the road doesn't matter. He gets to play with top level players for almost the entire season, on a winning franchise, that wants him to be wildly successful.

If he plays like a star and they win 65 games in the regular season & goes deep into the playoff, he'll make a reputation for himself that will carry him through the bulk of his career.

OTOH, I'll cut the writer some slack. Anyone who describes Kyrie as a "patchouli-stankin' lure" to get KD to Brooklyn can't be all bad. :lol:
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Re: D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo 

Post#6 » by We Are Groot » Fri Jul 5, 2019 1:59 am

Airmax3D:

Exactly, people seem to think that He wasn't in control but He was. He agreed to re-sign with the Nets knowing He was being traded to GSW as part of the deal to bring in KD so He indeed chose his destination.
Now, maybe it even goes further than that where the Warriors might have "promised" him a way out after year 1 but this is speculation whereas the first scenario isn't.

.......

So I think you're getting a little caught up in semantics. From the tone of the article, the author was talking abt Russell getting to pick where he wanted to go from all available options; when he "chose his destination," the situation effectively left him w/2 options at the moment he signed. Whereas if he entered ufa and met with teams, presumably he wld have more "choices." So in that regard, did Russell get what he really wanted? The author is suggesting he didn't.

Granted, going to GS might have been his 1st choice as an ufa, but considering all of the moving parts involved, it's unlikely.

By ur logic, if a convicted felon chose the gas chamber over the electric chair, he is "choosing (how he gets to) his (final) destination." But would you say that being executed by poisonous gas is REALLY what he wanted? Of course not.
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Re: D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo 

Post#7 » by IWishIWasHarden » Fri Jul 5, 2019 4:49 am

I wouldn't say it has him in limbo. It has him playing for one of the best teams in the world or even the best team when healthy.
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Re: D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo 

Post#8 » by watch1958 » Sat Jul 6, 2019 4:17 pm

Seems to me what the article is really complaining about is that WE (the internet public) don't get to watch him going through the UFA process. We don't get to see a 23 year old all-star being courted by any team with money.

That's fine, but don't act like it was something bad for Russell. He could have gone through that process if he'd wanted to.

Maybe he wants to prove himself on the biggest stage. He's going to a Warrior team that is still solid, but which has lost 60% of the Hamptons' Five.
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Re: D'Angelo Russell's Weird NBA Journey Now Has Him In Limbo 

Post#9 » by DBoys » Mon Jul 8, 2019 10:50 am

Bad thesis. And failed argument built on it.

Russell chose the Warriors. The idea that he got shipped off to a place he didn't choose is utterly absurd. And he would have been a UFA - BRK had to have the cap room to sign Durant and couldn't afford to keep his restricted rights- so he could have freely shopped, had he wanted to.

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