Trading D’Angelo Russell was one of the first moves Magic Johnson made when he took over the Los Angeles Lakers’ basketball operations department, but the former executive’s opinion of Russell has clearly changed over the past two seasons.
Russell is coming off a breakout season with the Brooklyn Nets in which he was named an All-Star, and there has been speculation that the Lakers will be interested in signing him as a restricted free agent next month. Johnson, who openly criticized Russell’s leadership abilities after trading him following the 2016-17 season, told Bill Oram of The Athletic on Monday that he is all for the Lakers trying to bring the point guard back.
“He’s better now,” Johnson said. “He’s a different player. He’s more mature. … Now he’s ready. He’s much more mature. I said the only thing, he was immature back then. He could always score, but the guys would never play with him because of what he did. But now all those guys are gone and he’s on another level now.”