D’Angelo Russell hardly seemed surprised he was dealt despite the fact NBA fans saw him as an integral part of the rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers. Despite someone seen with big potential, the sophomore got his share of criticism for his lack of consistency and maturity.

Those were practically the main areas for debate on the second overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. He hardly got along with Kobe Bryant though he did have glimpses of brilliance last season. Outside of his performance, Russell pointed out the change in management that hinted at his eventual separation.

Johnson, Pelinka didn’t draft him

With magic johnson and Rob Pelinka now handling the embattled franchise, Russell points out how such altered the Lakers outlook. The change was a game changer and Russell believed he would either be used as a tool or eventually sent off.

As most know, Russell was sent to the Brooklyn Nets along with Timofey Mozgov for Brook Lopez. It was a transaction most never saw coming though a kid named Lonzo Ball may have indirectly had something to do with it.

This is not to blame Ball for the Russell trade. It is just that the 21-year-old had ample time to prove his worth – something that would help Johnson and Pelinka assess if the team would flourish under his watch.

Obviously, they saw it differently.

Was it the right call?

With the Lakers now turning to Ball moving forward, it will be interesting if it was the right call. Johnson knows his stuff, particularly because he ran the “Lake Show” during his prime. If the Summer League is any indication, the Lakers could show promise.

But as most know, things change when the regular season starts. Most of the big stars didn’t play in Las Vegas so stakes are higher when Ball is pitted against established stars like Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul or even Russell.

Will this motivate the former Laker to play his heart out when Brooklyn faces Los Angeles?

Somehow it should though his value should go beyond the season matchup with his former club.

Again, it is all about maturity and how far Russell can go playing pro ball. Talent is one thing but leadership is another. Apparently, that is one department he lacked and Magic knows when a player can evolve into one (or not).

Russell may flourish under Kenny Atkinson and guided by vets like Jeremy Lin. But at the end of the day, it will not be his performance as a player which will stand out. It will be all about the Nets and how far they can go since Russell is only a part of the equation – a scenario he may have forgotten when he was still in Los Angeles.

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