Back in February, the Minnesota Timberwolves officially put an end to an era when they traded D’Angelo Russell in a three-team deal that sent the former Wolves point guard back to the team that drafted him in Los Angeles. The trade marked the end of Russell’s three-year stint in Minnesota.
Since landing back with the Lakers, D’Lo appears to have found a nice rhythm playing behind the likes of Anthony Davis and LeBron James. He averaged 16.3 points per game over the final 17 regular season contests in LA. In the playoffs he has been even better, putting up a monstrous 31-point performance on 70% shooting in game one of the first round.
All in all, the Timberwolves’ trade deadline deal that landed them Mike Conley and sent Russell to Los Angeles turned out to largely be a win-win scenario. Minnesota gained a pass-first, veteran floor general that helped maximize Anthony Edwards’ talent, while the Lakers were able to move on from Russell Westbrook and acquire more scoring talent.
D’Angelo Russell is now in a better situation for his talents to shine. Even so, that does not mean that he was being held back or limited in his previous position with the Timberwolves. Unfortunately, that is precisely the sentiment D’Lo expressed this week when asked about his time in Minnesota.
D’Angelo Russell believes he was held back by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In a recent interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, D’Angelo Russell explained his belief that he was not able to achieve his maximum potential with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"“I felt like I was held back there, honestly. I just kind of had to be the third option. Some nights, I was a little more aggressive and was kind of being held back. So to be in a position now where I can kind of thrive and be aggressive and it gets guys going, and where the team reflects off of anybody with that type of energy, it’s fun.”"
For the record, every Timberwolves fan is aware of D’Angelo Russell’s high degree of confidence. A statement like this is well within the boundaries of who we know him to be. No matter what, he is always going to believe in himself and his abilities. And that is a good thing.
However, this trait can sometimes cause Russell to view reality with blinders on. While he was certainly a third option or lower at times in Minnesota, it is not like he is featured that much more heavily with the Lakers now. Anthony Davis is not deferring to D’Lo with the game on the line.
D’Lo is showing selective memory on his time with the Timberwolves.
The truth is that D’Angelo Russell was given plenty of opportunity to shine in Minnesota. Sometimes he capitalized on these chances and other times he did not. But one of the prime examples where we saw him unleash his scoring prowess came just last December, when he scored 20 points or more in nine of 13 games for the Wolves that month.
He went through his ups and downs with the Timberwolves like any player would, but his failures were never due to a lack of opportunity. At the end of the day, D’Angelo Russell has never been a more talented player than Anthony Edwards or Karl-Anthony Towns. Choosing to rely on D’Lo over Edwards or KAT would have simply been an awful business decision for Head Coach Chris Finch.
It is Russell’s selective memory on his time in Minnesota that is stirring up bad blood with the fanbase. It seemed that both parties were happy to move on at the trade deadline and the harsh feelings between the two were minimal. But comments like these from D’Lo will only widen the divide between him and Timberwolves fans.