Steve Kerr still remembers June 30, 2019.
When Kevin Durant joined the Brooklyn Nets, the Warriors acquired D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade.
About a year-and-a-half later, things have changed drastically for all parties involved. Russell is now on the Minnesota Timberwolves, via last season’s trade that sent Andrew Wiggins and a top-three protected 2021 draft pick to Golden State.
Monday night’s matchup between the Warriors and Timberwolves marked the first since the two teams made the swap, but Russell missed it due to a right quad contusion. The two squads play again on Wednesday night at Chase Center.
In Monday's pregame video conference with the media, Kerr reflected on Russell’s brief 33-game tenure with the Warriors.
“Last year was a complete mess for our team, our organization with all the injuries,” Kerr said. “We were fortunate to be able to sign D’Angelo and our front office, Bob [Myers] and Joe [Lacob], they did a pretty remarkable job. I remember that day, that free agency day, kind of turning a situation where we have no cap room into being able to do the sign-and-trade when Kevin [Durant] signed with Brooklyn.
“Kind of a crazy day, but to end up with a young All-Star point guard in free agency was a coup for us. Obviously, last year with all the injuries, we had the worst record in the league. D’Angelo was a really productive player for us and shot the lights out and had some big games.”
Once Steph Curry went down with his broken left hand four games into the 2019-20 season, Russell was thrust into the starring role on his new team. Kudos to the Warriors for recognizing Russell wasn’t a great fit and acquiring a great haul in return. Wiggins has become Curry’s top sidekick and the Timberwolves are 4-11, so their 2021 first-rounder could be a premium draft pick that falls into the Warriors’ lap.
“He became a very valuable asset and turned into Andrew and some draft picks,” Kerr said. “Ultimately, it’s a story of kind of how the NBA works with trades, picks, business machinations and everything else. I think it turned out pretty well for everybody. I enjoyed coaching him and he did a pretty good job while he was here, but he was in the midst of just a mess of a season from us.”
Russell said he appreciated the Warriors’ honesty throughout the whole process and that there’s no bad blood between him and the franchise. Russell got a bigger paycheck with the Dubs in 2019 than the T-Wolves could have offered, and he still gets to play with his close friend Karl-Anthony Towns.
Minnesota’s season prospects look dismal, but it’s easy to see why Kerr has a positive outlook on the deal from where he’s sitting in San Francisco.