D’Angelo Russell’s poor finish to season further complicates Timberwolves’ offseason situation
D’Angelo Russell, the man known for having “ice in his veins” — an ode to his clutch shot making — spent the most important minutes of the Timberwolves’ season on the bench.
Russell sat in favor of Jordan McLaughlin for the final five minutes of Minnesota’s Game 6 loss on Saturday at Target Center. That certainly wasn’t Russell’s preference. He noted Saturday that everyone wants to be in a position to do their job.
“Of course I want to be out there,” he said.
But he didn’t earn that opportunity. Not with his play Saturday, not with his play throughout the first-round series, and frankly not with his play over the past couple of months. Over his final 14 appearances of the regular season, Russell averaged just 13.4 points a game, shooting 37 percent from the floor and 29 percent from deep. Over the back portion of the season, Russell had the Timberwolves’ worst defensive rating and net rating.
Then came a dynamic play-in performance against the Los Angeles Clippers that helped Minnesota punch its playoff ticket. But that turned out to be a blip on the radar and not a precursor to playoff success. Russell averaged 12 points and nearly three turnovers per game in the first-round loss, shooting 33 percent from the field.
“D-Lo had a great season for us, and he had a hard time settling into this series,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “Sometimes it goes like that. Every series has its own personality. Had we been able to move on, matchup wise, etc., who knows, maybe he could’ve had a great series against Golden State. That’s just how it goes. That’s playoff basketball.”
Asked to assess his own playoff performance Saturday, Russell skirted the question, citing a lack of time between the season’s end and his exit interview.
“I don’t want to get up here and say nothing that is going to stick or give you guys a headline, speaking on the playoffs and my performance,” Russell said. “I haven’t had time to really think about it. So I’m going to save my piece on that.”
Patrick Beverley conceded that Russell “could have ended better.”
D’Angelo Russell, the man known for having “ice in his veins,” spent the most important minutes of the Timberwolves’ season on the bench.