There was a time not too long ago when D’Angelo Russell was seen as the future of the Lakers franchise. The first of a series of No. 2 picks in the NBA Draft, D’Lo was seen as the first young cornerstone of the franchise.
Obviously, that didn’t work out quite the way either side expected, though each were probably better for it. Russell left the Lakers, became an All-Star and led teams to the playoffs. The Lakers eventually landed LeBron James, Anthony Davis and an NBA championship.
But the sour taste lingered in the mouth of Russell, who has flourished in his return to southern California this season. During halftime of Sunday’s contest against the Knicks, a game in which Russell scored 23 first-half points as part of his team-high 33 on the night, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN discussed D’Lo’s return and his motivation.
“D’Angelo Russell very much wanted a second chance in LA with the Lakers and you’ve seen the impact he made coming back against Toronto the other night, playing great in a win, and again tonight. He wants to be the point guard of the future for this organization. He’ll be a free agent this summer.”
This has to be music to the ears of Lakers fans. Even if things didn’t work out in his first go-round, Lakers fans never really turned their backs on him. Seeing him return and excel has felt, to many, like a dream.
And while Woj is reporting here, D’Lo’s own quotes could pretty easily be interpreted as wanting to be here for the future as well. After Friday’s win over Toronto, Russell spoke about a future with this team and the potential they would have.
The idea of him envisioning a future with the team isn’t all that new, either. Russell and his camp have reportedly been open to extension talks with the Lakers with the feeling being mutual.
It’s still very early in the relationship, and both Russell and the Lakers and fans are absolutely in the honeymoon phase still. But that doesn’t mean the letdown will be all bad and this partnership seems like one that makes plenty of sense, particularly as long as LeBron James and Anthony Davis are around.
It may not have been the way either side envisioned coming to this point, but it appears both the Lakers and Russell finally have a mutually beneficial future with one another in store.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.