D’Angelo Russell’s role with the Los Angeles Lakers remains uncertain in the final stretch of the 2016-17 NBA season. The second-year point guard has gone back and forth from the starting lineup to the bench during his first two seasons with the Lakers with many wondering what the future holds for the 21-year-old.
Unless head coach Luke Walton decides to insert him back in the starting lineup, Russell will seemingly have to learn how to play in the second unit for the final 14 games. Although Russell is as talented as any player on the current roster, the coaching staff believes he’s a point guard, but appear willing to experiment with him at shooting guard.
With Russell’s role being undefined at the moment, the Ohio State product did receive some feedback on Thursday at the practice facility. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka pulled Russell aside and urged him to be aggressive regardless of his role moving forward, via Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:
“Be aggressive no matter what my role is,” Russell said after Friday’s morning shootaround. “Just be aggressive.”
Russell heads into Friday’s game against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks coming off one of the worst performances of his career. In the 39-point loss to the Houston Rockets, Russell struggled off the bench finishing with five points on 2-of-10 shooting (0-for-5 from deep), two assists, two rebounds, and two steals while committing seven turnovers.
It was a forgettable performance, to say the least. Outside of Julius Randle scoring a career-high 32 points and Brandon Ingram shooting well going 8-for-14 from the floor for 18 points, the Lakers as whole were awful regardless of Russell’s poor performance.
As the season presses on, the Lakers brass will continue to evaluate the roster with Russell and his role on the team possibly be something Johnson and Pelinka will keep a close eye on. No one is safe on this team as the NBA offseason approaches, and the lack of effort and aggressiveness could prove costly for players like Russell if the front office is considering making a major trade this summer.