Kevin Durant was leaving for the Brooklyn Nets, so the Golden State Warriors needed to do all they could to make sure they weren’t left with nothing. That’s meant making a trade for D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn’s best player last season.
We don’t know how Russell will fit in with Golden State just yet, although there has been some positive news between him and Stephen Curry from practice thus far.
However, many have believed that the team traded for Russell simply to swap him for another player down the road. The team has denied that, and he’s going to hang out at least for a little bit given that Klay Thompson will not start the year due to his ACL injury. But according to a new rumor from The Athletic’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss, the Warriors might be looking to keep Russell long-term.
Via the Athletic:
There’s a strong possibility that the Warriors actually want their newest big acquisition for seasons beyond this one.
After doing a little digging, I’ve come to buy the Warriors front office on this one. I believe that the Warriors’ public messaging actually matches their private beliefs. While it’s nice to retain the “optionality” that comes with signing a 23-year-old max player, I don’t think that he was primarily acquired for his trade value. The front office’s first hope is that Russell flourishes alongside Curry and becomes a foundational piece.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Warriors decided that they actually liked Russell and wanted a combo guard to play in a 3-man backcourt once Thompson returns.
We have seen weirder things in the NBA, and if Draymond Green is still going to be who he has been in the past, that’s a pretty formidable lineup. The Warriors might not be as dominant as they once were, but it’s hard to find guys that match up with each other on the floor.
Russell could also be excellent insurance against one of either Curry or Thompson getting hurt in the future — because, you know, he’s literally filling that role as we speak. Both stars are getting on in age, and we know how Curry has dealt with his ankles in the past.
Whether this is smoke or real, we don’t yet know. In the meantime, this is the NBA and you can’t rule out the possibility that Russell could stay in San Francisco past this season.