The Los Angeles Lakers drafted three players in the 2015 NBA Draft. After cutting Anthony Brown during the 2016 preseason in order to keep room for Metta World Peace and shipping D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn so the Nets would eat the rest of Timofey Mozgov’s contract, only Larry Nance, Jr. remains from that draft class that once appeared so promising.
Nance had already made it clear he was going to miss Russell on Twitter, and on the Hoopshype Podcast with Alex Kennedy, Nance gave his thoughts on the Lakers trading Russell to the Nets for cap relief (h/t Thai Luong of Lakers Outsiders).
“It was tough. That’s another part you don’t necessarily think about. You’re like ‘Oh I want this guy and this guy, this guy, I’d love to play with that guy’ but you don’t really think who’s got to go in order for that to happen,” Nance said. “With D’Angelo going, that’s the last guy remaining from my draft class with our team. Me and him kind of had a little bit of a bond there.
“Overall (he is), just a really good teammate, really good guy, so I’m sad to see him go,” Nance continued. “But at the same time, I hope he just tears it up in Brooklyn. I hope he averages 40, except when he plays us. He’s obviously shown he can shoot it, drive it, do what he needs to do. He’s a great passer and everything. I think he’ll have a lot of success in Brooklyn and be part of turning that thing around.”
Nance — who is legitimately one of the most genuine and nice athletes in the NBA — publicly wishing Russell well does not get rid of all the character concerns the Lakers and the rest of the league have about him, but it does at least show that he was well-liked by some of his teammates and not as bad as some have anonymously attempted to paint him through leaks since the trade.
The Lakers obviously felt differently, which is their right. It’s just also worth noting that Nance obviously wishes Russell well and believed in his talent, given the anonymously-sourced attempts to frame him in a negative light in recent days.