The Lakers’ reacquisition of D’Angelo Russell at the deadline last season was one of the more pleasant surprises in some time for fans. A favorite in his first stint in Los Angeles, Russell’s exit was not a pretty one and certainly came with the feeling of no return being in the cards in the future.
But not only did D’Lo come back to the purple and gold, he excelled and helped carry the Lakers to the playoffs. It was a lot for Lakers fans to process in a span of a couple months, but it was an enjoyable ride along the way.
Recently, Russell appeared on Patrick Beverley’s podcast and talked about how different things were between his two stints in LA.
Russell: “Honestly, it was fun because the buzz around the team was kind of – the Lakers were being talked about. It was kind of like everybody laugh at the Lakers because we were losing at the time. For me, it was kind of like ‘Let’s bring this new energy.’ And we came with some guys that I already knew that were happy go lucky guys, too. Teams need those energy guys. Not energy on the court but energy in the locker room. Make guys laugh, you need that offset. With the Vando and Beas, we came with that energy that we just wanted to make everybody smile again. Like, let’s make this fun again. I don’t know what it was before we got here but let’s make it fun again.”
Beverley: “Not fun. Not fun at all. That’s what it was.”
For as much as he produced on the court, Russell deserves a lot of credit for entirely changing the vibe of the Lakers. Prior to the deadline, the team was playing a pretty bland, unexciting style of basketball that had fans tuning out.
But Russell — along with Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley — came in and injected a much more jovial vibe into the team. Part of that comes simply from winning basketball games, which the pre-deadline Lakers were doing little of. The other part of it also comes from the players and the personalities themselves.
And that is something they deserve credit for, which he also mentioned on the podcast. For all the frustrations that came with D’Lo’s play late in the season, he played an important role in turning the tide on the season last year, and hopefully an entire training camp and season together moving forward leads to even bigger things.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.