D’Angelo Russell’s return to the Los Angeles Lakers has been successful. After playing three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he is playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis with a squad that’s completely different from the last time he played there. They currently lead the Golden State Warriors 2-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Russell was one of several additions that the Lakers made at the trade deadline that helped revive their season. He made it clear that he never verbally requested a trade from the Timberwolves in a conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic. However, he was hoping for another new start, which he got with his former team.

“No, I never asked out,” Russell said, via The Athletic. “Never. I just felt that (I wanted out) in my gut. I never spoke on it. I never showed that; I just felt it. That’s all.”

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Russell joined the Timberwolves at the 2020 trade deadline excited to team up with Karl-Anthony Towns. However, he said that by the 2022-23 season, his style of play was being held down and he was included in a three-team deal that sent him to the Lakers to vacate the spot left by Russell Westbrook. The arrival of Anthony Edwards as the lead guard suggested he would soon be traded and not be prioritized as much entering free agency. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

“I felt they couldn’t pay me, so I kind of expected it,” Russell said, via The Athletic. “I felt like I was gonna outplay my (Timberwolves) offer, whatever they wanted to offer me, and then I’d be in a position where I’d have to make a decision. And I just kind of held my cards tight and let the basketball Gods take over.”

With the Lakers, D’Angelo Russell’s outside scoring has been key in the playoffs. Though he still has flaws in his game, his ability to heat up helps Los Angeles greatly. Along with fellow newcomer Jarred Vanderbilt and the continually improving Austin Reaves, he has been huge for the revamped Lakers, who are now just two wins away from the conference finals.