— KNBR (@KNBR) February 7, 2020
The Warriors did a nice job of trying to act like D’Angelo Russell was in it for the long haul. Actually, “nice” might be an overstatement. They did a job.
It was obvious from the moment that Russell was acquired that he wasn’t ever part of the Warriors’ long-term picture. The pipe dream of the Russell-Curry-Thompson small ball backcourt was no doubt an enticing proposition in the shooting-obsessed NBA, but Thompson is an elite defender and Curry, for all his defensive deficiencies, at least tries.
Russell… well, you saw him play.
Here’s how Draymond Green described Russell’s defense early in the season.
“Watching him in practice yesterday, I told him, ‘Oh you showed me you can defend. I didn’t know you could. So that’s the expectation now,'” Green said. “Obviously, we’re going to ask him to defend.”
That requisition from Russell to defend was short-lived. The fact that he had to be asked to defend was a red flag from the get-go, among the many others (like playing 33 games out of a possible 58).
Head coach Steve Kerr never seemed to be enamored with Russell — who was traded, along with Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, lightly-protected 2021-first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick — and on Friday, admitted that he never quite fit with the Warriors.
“To be blunt, the fit was questionable when we signed him, but nobody questioned that,” Kerr said. “When you already have Steph and Klay and you add a ball-dominant guard, you can rightfully question the fit. That was one of the reasons the trade rumors started before the season even began. And I think D’Angelo understood that when he signed the contract and our organization understood that as well. So the trade ended up happening…
You get a good enough look and a long enough look to picture how the positional fit goes and I think we have an idea that the other player [Wiggins] makes more sense, and in this case, I would say for both teams.”
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