March 29, 2016, 9:40 pm
D’Angelo Russell is 19 years old. You don’t have to follow the Lakers closely to have seen the various outbursts and mannerisms that drive Byron Scott and teammates up a wall. While it’s fair to wonder how this will translate into his ability to lead a franchise — something Kobe Bryant and others have questioned — it’s hard to ride the kid too hard for his various foibles because most of us were a mess at 19 ourselves and look at how we turned out.
Okay, bad example, but you get the point.
This time, however, Russell might have bitten off more than he can chew with his most recent incident. ESPN reported late on Tuesday night that Russell broke the No. 1 rule of the locker room, which is that what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room (or at the apartment or hotel room in this case).
Sources told ESPN.com that trust in Russell from some teammates is eroding after a video surfaced in the past week that shows the 20-year-old former Ohio State standout and No. 2 overall pick from the 2015 draft recording a private conversation between Russell and teammate Nick Young in which Young does not appear to realize he’s being taped.
The video, which is believed to have come to light last week via the Twitter account of a celebrity gossip site, shows Russell filming Young while asking leading questions about Young being with other women. Young got engaged to Australian rapper Iggy Azalea last summer.
The Lakers would go on to lose by 48 points to the Jazz on Monday and that’s the least of Russell and the team’s concerns at this point:
Various Lakers officials are aware of the issue and are dismayed with Russell, sources say, but to this point have chosen not to intervene in how Russell’s actions have been received and handled by his teammates.
“Right now,” one source said, “they’re handling it by isolating him.”
How bad is this situation and how pissed are Russell’s teammates?
At a recent breakfast meeting, one source said, no Laker would sit with Russell at his table. The source added that, in another instance, Russell came into the locker room and sat next to guard Lou Williams, who got up and walked away.
“It’s bad,” one team source told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “It’s about as bad as it can get. There were trust issues already. Now there’s no trust.”
“He’s such a kid,” Scott said in February. “I told him the other day, ‘You’re 19 but sometimes I think you’re 14.'”
There are a number of important angles here for Young in his personal life that are between he and his girlfriend, but for Russell’s part his actions have led to a crossroads early in his career. Is he going to learn from stuff like this or will it become a pattern? And will the Lakers look to a future with him as a foundational piece, or look to use him in a blockbuster deal before his value gets sapped by in-between the ears stuff.
UPDATE: Izzy has weighed in. Nick gonna be sleeping on the couch … if he’s lucky.