Now we know why the Lakers gave up on this guy just two years after selecting D’Angelo Russell second overall. Aside from the fact they had to include him to get the Nets to take Timofey Mozgov and his hideous contract off their hands. And that he wasn’t Magic Johnson’s and Rob Pelinka’s pick. Those things are true.
But the fact is, they also liked Lonzo Ball more than Russell. Apparently a lot of more, because Erv not only kicked Russell to the curb, he kicked him in the teeth on the way out the door too.
Magic said, D’Angelo is an excellent player. He has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better and also that players want to play with.”
In other words, they think Lonzo Ball will be everything Russell wasn’t; namely a guy who is unselfish, will lead and that other guys will ball with.
From the sound of things, Russell was none of those things. And it’s not just a gut feeling on Magic’s part. He did his due diligence on Ball. You don’t burn the second pick of the NBA Draft without turning up every single stone and checking every single closet for skeleton. And Magic did that. And more, saying, “I went to the high school. I talked to the principal. I talked to, I think four teachers. They all said at different times, this guy, everybody attracts to this guy. And I said, ok, we’ve got our man.”
Apparently that’s all Erv needed to hear to decide Lonzo was his guy.
Look, I like the pick, but hopefully, a little more went into it than Erv talking to Ball’s biology teacher and gym coach. Sort of makes you wonder if he also went to Russell’s high school and if a teacher there told him, “not a great kid. Wouldn’t share the ball, and couldn’t lead anyone anywhere because the others just didn’t’ like balling with him… either way, it’s pretty clear this wasn’t case of the Lakers not wanting to part with Russell but had to get Mozgov off the books. Or just a case of them wanting to draft Ball.
It’s also a case of Johnson not wanting anything to do with Russell. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have smashed him on the way out the door.