Magic Johnson on D'Angelo Russell: ‘What I Needed Was a Leader’

By Kevin Harrish on June 25, 2017 at 1:15 pm
Magic Johnson reveals he traded D'Angelo Russell because he lacked leadership qualities.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

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Just two years after they selected D'Angelo Russell No. 2 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers dealt the former Buckeye to the Brooklyn Nets for Brooks Lopez and a late first-round pick.

It seemed odd that the Lakers would deal such a young, promising player like Russell so soon, but thanks to Magic Johnson, we now know why.

"D'Angelo is an excellent player," Johnson said. "He has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better and also [sombody] that the other players want to play for."

So where is he going for that leadership ability he craves? A 19-year-old one-and-done with a problematic father. Bold strategy, Magic. Let's see how that works out.

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