Thank You, Magic: the Lakers gave away a superstar

D%27Angelo+Russell%2C+in+his+fourth-year+in+the+NBA+and+his+second+with+the+Nets%2C+has+increased+his+play+in+nearly+every+stat+category.
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Thank You, Magic: the Lakers gave away a superstar

D'Angelo Russell, in his fourth-year in the NBA and his second with the Nets, has increased his play in nearly every stat category.

D'Angelo Russell, in his fourth-year in the NBA and his second with the Nets, has increased his play in nearly every stat category.

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets Instagram

D'Angelo Russell, in his fourth-year in the NBA and his second with the Nets, has increased his play in nearly every stat category.

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets Instagram

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets Instagram

D'Angelo Russell, in his fourth-year in the NBA and his second with the Nets, has increased his play in nearly every stat category.

Jackson Etienne, Staff Writer

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D’Angelo Russell’s career season with the Nets has the NBA community questioning if  Magic Johnson and the rest of the Lakers’ management gave up on the 23-year-old combo-guard prematurely, especially following Los Angeles’ recent struggles this season posting a 30-35 record.

The Russell-less Lakers are a possible lottery team while Brooklyn (34-33) is looking at its first playoff berth in five years.

Russell has posted career highs this season averaging 20.4 points-per-game, 6.8 assists-per-game, 36 percent from behind the arc and earned a 2019 All Star selection. He  is a man on a mission to prove he is no longer the young immature player ostracized by his former Lakers teammates following the now infamous Nick Young soap opera.

Los Angeles selected Russell out of Ohio State with the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft  and he set-up to be the future guard to replace aging guard Kobe Bryant.

But Johnson and the Lakers traded Russell to Brooklyn in a deal that shipped him and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick in the 2017 draft. This was Johnson’s first decision as the newly appointed president of basketball operations.

Many Laker fans were not too fond of the move that involved trading a young prospect for an aging big man and a late first round pick; even though it turned out to be Kyle Kuzma.

Johnson commented soon after drafting point guard Lonzo Ball that summer, saying the organization “needed a leader” and someone “that can make the other players better.”

Obvious digs at the recently traded Russell, but since then the young guard has taken leaps in his improvements as a leader and player. The young guard even sealed a game earlier this season against the Lakers with a pull up 3-pointer over Kuzma on Dec. 18 in Brooklyn.

Nets fans made sure to remind Russell and the NBA world how Johnson gifted them an All Star for basically nothing, by chanting “Thank You, Magic” when Russell was at the line during their game Tuesday against Cleveland. Denver routed the Lakers that same night crushing them 115-99, giving Los Angeles its fourth straight loss.

The better Russell plays, and the more the Lakers struggle, the more incapable Johnson looks as a front office executive.

His recent jump up in productivity Russell will warrant a lot of suitors this off-season, especially as an unrestricted free agent, and many assume Brooklyn will match any offer sheet Russell signs. And Brooklyn has never been a marquis landing spot for free agents so, the Nets need to keep a hold of all the talent they have.

An Eastern Conference executive believes Russell is worth around $20 million annually, according to Michael Scotto of the Athletic.

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