But what if the Lakers can deal the point guard who had an up-and-down rookie season for value? The chance for a reset provides at least some intrigue.
That’s why Russell has been mentioned in trade rumors lately.
“You hear trade talks,” Russell said on Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Then you get a text from your GM saying he trusts your work ethic and don’t worry about it.”
Don’t worry about it, as in you won’t be traded? Or don’t worry about it, as in don’t be concerned with what you can’t control?
Russell seems to have taken it as the former, but it might be the latter – which might be just what Mitch Kupchak intended. If the Lakers don’t trade Russell, the text reinforces his belief that the franchise is behind him. If the Lakers trade Russell, they would no longer need him to feel trust with their front office, anyway. That’s why it’s common for general managers to send mixed messages. Teams show loyalty to players until they don’t.
I’m not counting on Russell being traded this offseason, just as I’m not counting on any particular player being traded. But Kupchak’s text doesn’t lower the odds for me.