D’Angelo Russell had a good time, but not a long time, with the Warriors.
Golden State traded Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves ahead of February’s NBA trade deadline, dealing the guard just over half a year after acquiring him in a sign-and-trade when Kevin Durant joined the Brooklyn Nets. Russell said he looks back on that short time fondly.
"It was dope, man," he said Thursday on Instagram Live. "The culture of winning is ... not easy to build. It comes through time. The culture that they had over there, you see why they win. You see why they had the success that they had. They just do it right.
“It's a lot of special basketball minds over there that just drive that ship over there. It was dope; I enjoyed the whole experience."
Russell lasted just 33 games with the Warriors, averaging 23.6 points, 6.2 assists and 3.6 rebounds. Golden State expected the 24-year-old to share the spotlight with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson if he recovered from his torn ACL, but Russell became the Warriors’ focal point when Curry broke his hand four games into the season.
The guard would’ve been a “questionable” fit alongside Curry and Thompson when they returned, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, so the Warriors dealt a package centered around Russell to the T-Wolves for Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 top-three protected first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick. Russell nearly signed with Minnesota before joining Golden State, and his team-up with Karl-Anthony Towns -- his “brother” -- was a long time coming.
Wiggins, in turn, gave the Warriors a much-needed scoring threat on the wing. He cooled off after a hot start by the time the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but Wiggins more obviously fit the Warriors’ long-term needs than Russell.
That abrupt end apparently made Russell’s brief Warriors stint no less enjoyable.