D’Angelo Russell just joined his third NBA franchise this summer, but he’s already thinking about where he might play next.
The new Golden State Warriors guard conducted a wide-ranging interview with SLAM Magazine when he graced the cover of their 2019-20 preview with longtime friends Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker. The cover story was mainly focused on the trio's friendship but didn’t take long to veer into their potential futures.
“We gotta do this again, when we’re all on the same team,” Russell joked with Towns and Booker. “Y’all got it on footage. When we’re all on the same team—I ain’t gonna tell you which team because I don’t know—we’re gonna do this again.”
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) October 17, 2019
Could Russell, Towns and Booker play together?
After signing max contracts, all three players are under contract for at least four more seasons, so they won’t be able to choose their destiny any time soon. But it’s yet another moment of player empowerment showing, as players are unafraid to speak while the league is trying to crack down on collusion harder than ever before.
The NBA Board of Governors convened in September and established harsher penalties for tampering, but those were all focused on teams and executives, not players. It’s hard to police how players talk to each other, and the league may not want to go down that route, but it’s easy to imagine commissioner Adam Silver not being thrilled by these comments.
Regardless, the Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns have been loathe to talk about trading their young stars, so any reunion would likely be five years away at best. It could also be complicated to fit them all under the salary cap, since they'd all be eligible to make max salaries worth 30 percent of the cap.
The players have been friends since middle school
As detailed in the SLAM feature, Russell, Towns and Booker came up together in the AAU circuit and have known each other since the sixth or seventh grade. Booker and Towns eventually met up at Kentucky, where they had a near-undefeated season, but Russell went his separate way to Ohio State.
All three declared for the draft after one year and saw their stories intertwine again. Towns went first overall and Russell followed at No. 2, and Booker became the third lottery pick when the Suns took him off the board at 13.
Defensive deficiencies aside, it’s hard to argue that the three friends wouldn’t make a fun team. We got a taste of that when they combined to score 53 points in the 2017 NBA Rising Stars Challenge. But as more players explicitly talk about teaming up and recruiting players, it’s worth tracking if the league will respond to squelch the trend.
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