After Magic Johnson traded D’Angelo Russell out of LA in 2017, he threw some major shade at the young point guard.
At the time, Johnson told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes he needed someone who was a leader, who could make his teammates better, and who other players wanted to play with.
But now Magic is very happy with Russell’s return to the Lakers, claiming he has come a long way since he was last in the purple and gold.
“I think D’Angelo has really grown and matured,” Johnson told For The Win. “He can score the basketball. He can pass the basketball. He doesn’t turn it over a lot. That’s what I like about him, too. That pick-and-roll with Anthony Davis is going to be special.
“You have to pick your poison for what you try to do whether it’s Russell coming off the PnR or Anthony Davis rolling to the basket and they’ll have some more time playing with LeBron. If the Lakers can get in, and I think they will, nobody is going to want to play them. That’s for sure.”
Meanwhile, Russell himself says he won’t waste his second chance with the Lakers.
“I’m a grown man now,” he said. “I’m not a child. I’m just excited to showcase it. … I never hoped to be back here because I didn’t understand if I could be ready for it and be a part of what they were doing for the future because you never know what the team’s going to look like, so it’s hard to find stability in that.
“But I’m here now and I really appreciate being back because I feel like I’m ready for everything that’s about to come for the team and whatever comes my way.”
Russell was an All-Star in 2019 and in his three games for the Lakers so far this season has averaged 17.3 points, 5.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds.