Since the day Golden State got D'Angelo Russell from Brooklyn in a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn (for one Kevin Durant, you may have heard of him), the message from the team on and off the record has been clear:
They like Russell, they like the idea of how he will fit with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (and Draymond Green), they have no plans to trade him. Outside the Warriors organization people may be doubts about the fit (*raises hand*), and those people also may think the Warriors gave Russell a four-year, $117.3 million contract in order to trade him for players who are a better fit. The Warriors say no, they are going to give this a legitimate chance to work.
If you want more evidence of that, check out this note from Ethan Strauss of The Athletic:
There’s a strong possibility that the Warriors actually want their newest big acquisition for seasons beyond this one. Their front-office leaders, Joe Lacob and Bob Myers both, are as smitten with him as any team that just selected a top-5 player in the draft. Myers has heard the assessments of his trade and they appear to grate on him…
After doing a little digging, I’ve come to buy the Warriors front office on this one. I believe that the Warriors’ public messaging actually matches their private beliefs. While it’s nice to retain the “optionality” that comes with signing a 23-year-old max player, I don’t think that he was primarily acquired for his trade value. The front office’s first hope is that Russell flourishes alongside Curry and becomes a foundational piece.
The Warriors are not saying they don’t want to trade him to make sure they have leverage, this is what they believe. They want this to work and are all in on the idea.
If it doesn’t, well, he’s a nice trade piece. But that’s not what the Warriors are thinking heading into the season.