The Los Angeles Lakers were once built around a core to someday be led by Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell. The duo played two seasons together, the first being an up-close seat to the final season of Kobe Bryant, the second their final campaign as the Lakers took their franchise another direction this summer.
There was definitely a bond between the former lottery packs, even if it wasn’t an outward bromance. Randle and Russell, once the Double R Connection, are now on two very different paths going forward.
“It was tough. Me and D’Lo obviously, we came in, he came in the year after me, but you spend two years with somebody and kind of building that relationship and that young core that we had and that bond that we had over the past few years, day in and day out working together, it was tough. But honestly I think he’s in a great situation. He’s in a situation where he’s going to thrive. I think he’ll be really good there. And it’s the business of things.
Just because it’s a business doesn’t mean you have to lose the relationship, so, it’s going to be tough without him this year. But like anything, you’ve got to move on and find ways to adjust, and we got some great pieces in return,” Randle said of the Russell trade.
Russell was turned into a huge chunk of salary cap space, the flexibility to draft Kyle Kuzma (with the Nets’ pick), Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant, and a floor-spacing big man in Brook Lopez who should help anchor the Lakers’ offensively.
Randle sees his pairing with Lopez as the “perfect combination” to open up the offense, something the front office has discussed several times since the trade.
“I think it’s a perfect combination. Obviously, he shoots the ball really well, being able to space the floor. I like to pass, so, me being able to drive and whether the lane is open or his man decides he wants to help in, being able to kick out to him for three or wherever he’s at.
I think it’s the perfect combination. He’s obviously very skilled, a long player, so I think he’s going to be really, really good for us and a big part of what we do,” Randle said.
Spreading the offense out with Lopez should help create space at the rim for Randle, while also giving him another player kick to when he’s handling the ball. It makes a lot of sense on paper, but we’ll have to wait to see how this revamped core comes together in reality.
It’s exciting times for the Lakers, even if there’s still some sting left in parting ways with D’Angelo to get here.