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D’Angelo Russell said team progress was put on hold for Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour

Coming off the worst season in franchise history, the Los Angeles Lakers are preparing for yet another rebuilding year with a new coach in Luke Walton and plenty of young talent to explore.

One of their talented young pieces, D’Angelo Russellspoke to the Los Angeles Times about his rookie season as a Laker and his perspective in the 17-65 season they had as a team — including Kobe Bryant and his farewell tour.

“He deserved it; it was his time,” said Russell. “They expected so much from so many people, and then Kobe had his farewell tour, and it was just like, we put everything we had, expectations for everybody else, on hold. We gotta get through Kobe’s farewell tour and then we can continue with our process. So we kind of accepted that.”

Russell, who was the main piece in a video scandal with fellow guard Nick Young, said he didn’t feel he received the guidance that a rookie like him needed in his first year.

“Everything I went through was new, and there was no guidance from the people that were supposed to give me the guidance.”

While Russell has a right to his opinion, it feels disparaging to say the Lakers would have developed more without Kobe Bryant in the lineup. While Bryant is notoriously the ultimate competitor and not the mentor type, it would be hard to imagine other players developing if he weren’t there, given that he only plays one position and he played limited minutes throughout last season.

As far as the Russell-Young situation, somehow another 30-something rookies managed to get through the season without getting into a phone scandal, so it would be quite a jump to attribute that to superior guidance on their part.

Regardless, we’ll see how well the young point guard develops this year without Bryant and with a new coaching staff that will have no option but to mentor the future of the team.

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