Lakers 'fed up' of D'Angelo Russell's lack of leadership, reveals ESPN insider

By @saihoops on
D'Angelo Russell, Lonzo Ball, Lakers
Mar 28, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakes guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Staples Center. The Wizards won 119-108. USA TODAY Sports / Kelvin Kuo

The Los Angeles Lakers are "fed up" with point guard D'Angelo Russell for his lack of leadership, according to senior NBA insider Stephen A Smith. Russell, drafted No. 2 overall by the Lakers in 2015, has shown flashes of a future superstar but has irked a lot of people within the Purple & Gold due to his inability to play the role of a floor general, revealed Smith. 

“Lakers can’t pass up on Lonzo Ball (with the No. 2 pick) because they don’t have much faith in D’Angelo Russell, who they believe is devoid of leadership. Numerous sources told me through the season that they are fed up with D’Angelo because they really, really have a problem with his lack of leadership," Smith said during Thursday's edition of ESPN First Take. (Watch video below)

The Lakers, after landing the No. 2 overall pick during Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery, are expected to draft UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball during next month's 2017 NBA Draft. Though some analysts feel Russell and Ball could form a potent backcourt and play next to each other, several insiders reckon Russell would be making way for Ball and mostly likely get traded out of Los Angeles in the near future. 

'Russell lacks IT Factor, Lonzo Ball is the answer'

Smith added that many within the Lakers organisation believe Russell lacks "the IT factor" to carry the Purple & Gold into the next generation. “They know that he can play. They don’t know if he’s star power, but they know he can play. Their problem is that when you talk about being a point guard in L.A. reminiscent of Show Time, you have an individual in Russell who is incapable of galvanizing the troops around him. Russell isn't the guy who can get everybody to play as one, he lacks the that IT factor."

On Tuesday, barely minutes after the Lakers landed the No. 2 pick for a third consecutive year, Sports Illustrated reported that teams had already started calling Magic Johnson & Co. about a potential D'Angelo Russell trade. "With the Los Angeles Lakers coming away with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft following Tuesday night’s lottery, multiple NBA teams are evaluating trade packages for D’Angelo Russell," league sources told 

Could D'Angelo Russell move to the two-guard spot?

It's worth noting that Lakers coach Luke Walton played D'Angelo Russell at the two-guard spot to close out the 2016-17 regular season. Perhaps, it was with the intention to clear the 1 spot for Ball or another young point guard. Many believe that Russell is best suited to the role of a shooting guard. 

"Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, still has two years remaining on his rookie contract and could be an attractive option to teams in search of a point guard, rather than splurging on an expensive free agent lead Ball handler this offseason," NBA insider Jake Fischer wrote in his report. 

D'Angelo Russell averaged 15.6 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds during his second season with the Lakers. The previous Lakers front office, led by Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss, had resisted trading him to Sacramento Kings when DeMarcus Cousins was made available prior to February's NBA Trade Deadline. Cousins was eventually shipped to New Orleans.