DLo Openly Hated Playing with Gobert and Needed to Go; KAT Agrees

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The Minnesota Timberwolves traded D’Angelo Russell to the LA Lakers in a 3-team blockbuster on Wednesday that landed them Mike Conley Jr and some 2nd round picks. On its face, the compensation for DLo felt a bit light.

Conley Jr was one of the best point guards in the NBA for a handful of years but, at 35-years-old, he’s far beyond his prime. Russell, on the other hand, is 27-years-old and coming off two of the best months of his professional career. So there’s little doubt the Lakers got immediately better with this trade and the Wolves, on paper, got worse.

D’Angelo Russell became a problem.

So why would Tim Connelly make such a move, if his goal is for the Minnesota Timberwolves to make the playoffs this season? Well, because sometimes decisions go beyond the hardwood. And that certainly appears to be the case with D’Angelo Russell.

Wolves insider, Jon Krawczynski (The Athletic) went on KFAN Radio with Dan Barreiro Thursday night and spilled the beans on Russell’s animosity toward newly acquired Rudy Gobert. Apparently, Russell was actively complaining about Gobert to anyone within earshot. Those privy to DLo’s vocalized frustrations included teammates, coaches, media members and even opponents (transcribed below).

“[Russell’s] frustration [with Gobert] was palpable within the Timberwolves locker room. I’m sure there were other players who had some frustrations as well but I think were able to say, ‘Hey look, Rudy Gobert is a $40 million player. We just gotta figure out a way to make this happen’.

DLo certainly tried to make it work but it was uncomfortable at times. I mean, we would come into the locker room and you could hear him actively, just kind of bemoaning the situation. I’ve talked to coaches and players from other teams who have heard him just kind of getting down on Rudy during games.

There was this perception that D’Angelo Russell was very frustrated with Gobert and did not seem as open to working with him.”

Jon Krawczynski (The Athletic) on KFAN Radio

Jonny K was on KFAN Radio, not just in the evening (above) but in the morning too, talking about the awkwardness created by D’Angelo Russell’s dislike for Rudy Gobert, the basketball player. He wrote about it less in-depth at The Athletic.

DLo, KAT Schism…

Krawczynski’s quote above came from his appearance on the Dan Barreiro Show, which airs every weekday on KFAN from 3 PM-6ish PM. The host, Dan Barreiro, is a former columnist at the Star Tribune and, for the first 15 years of the franchise’ existence, he was a regular in the Wolves pressbox.

Barreiro has Jon Krawczynski on his show regularly but he has access to just about every insider in town who knows anything about the local pro teams. That’s why my ears perked up when, on Thursday, Dan made multiple quips about the issues DLo was causing in the Timberwolves locker room, even before Jonny Athletic came on.

Especially when he brought up a possible rift between Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns, who were once considered best friends. According to Barreiro, KAT won’t shed any tears at DLo’s departure (23:45 mark – transcribed below).

“If the concern is, ‘well KAT’s gonna be mad now that the Wolves moved his buddy,’ because [Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell] were supposed to be good buddies and they were supposed to live happily ever after?

Everybody who’s been around the team tells me that [KAT and DLo] are way past that point. That marriage, I don’t know if it’s in divorce, but they ain’t anywhere near that close so that is an irrelevant concern. Whatever you think of the deal, good or bad, this will have absolutely no impa… it might even make KAT celebrate or encourage him to get healthy a little bit quicker.”

Dan Barreiro (KFAN)
Off paper, Timberwolves got better.

On paper, it’d be easy to look at this trade and criticize the Minnesota Timberwolves for getting the worst end of the deal. But if D’Angelo Russell had become that big of a locker room problem that KAT and Gobert wanted him gone then Tim Connelly had no other choice.

Then, the next night, the Wolves destroyed the same team they traded with, the Utah Jazz. Without DLo, KAT and Rudy. So stay tuned…

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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