After 33 games with D’Angelo Russell culminated with a trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admitted on Friday to what everybody already knew.
Russell was a bad fit in Golden State.
The Warriors conducted a sign-and-trade to obtain Russell from the Brooklyn Nets last offseason, bringing the ball-dominant guard to a team that already has two superstar scorers in the backcourt in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
‘To be perfectly blunt ...’
The Warriors traded Russell on Thursday for a package that returned Andrew Wiggins. Kerr spoke about the trade with reporters on Friday.
Steve Kerr on D’Angelo Russell: “To be blunt, the fit was questionable when we signed him (from a positional standpoint).” Full quote. pic.twitter.com/eKs89GSLQr— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 7, 2020
“To be perfectly blunt, the fit was questionable when we signed him,” Kerr said. “Nobody questioned that. When you already have Steph and Klay and you add a ball-dominant guard, you can rightfully question the fit.”
Plenty did question the fit when the Warriors made the move. With Thompson expected to miss this season after suffering a torn ACL in last season’s NBA Finals, many looked at Russell as a stop-gap acquisition destined to be dangled in trade talks after he inked a four-year, $117 million deal ahead of the sign-and-trade.
No help for Golden State this season
When Curry suffered a broken hand in October, Golden State’s season went off the rails. At that point there was no question about Russell’s fit in a crowded backcourt. There was just no good fit at all for a team suffering a significant talent dearth to due departures and injuries.
But Curry and Thompson are expected to start next season healthy, so the Warriors determined that Thursday’s move was their best option, thus ending the Russell experiment prematurely.
Acquiring Russell wasn’t a mistake
None of this is to criticize the Warriors for trading for Russell. At the time, it was the best opportunity they had to improve their team as last summer’s loaded free-agent market was drying up.
No, Russell was never a good fit. But Golden State found the opportunity to bring in an All-Star level player, and they jumped on it. He was an asset. And they flipped that asset on Thursday with hopes of unlocking Wiggins’ potential as a former No. 1 overall draft pick.
Whether they got enough in return is now up for reasonable debate. Kerr believes it was a good deal for everyone involved.
“The other move, the other player makes more sense,” Kerr said of Wiggins’ fit with the Warriors. “In this case, I would say for both teams.
“I’m happy for D’Angelo. I think he’s gonna have a great situation in Minneapolis. ... In the end, I think this could work out for everybody.”
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