LAS VEGAS - More than a week ago, the Warriors grappled with the possibility of losing all-star forward Kevin Durant for nothing in free agency. Instead, following a sign-and-trade engineered late on Day 1 of the moratorium, they acquired D'Angelo Russell.
Now, as the summer unfolds, Golden State's all-star consolation prize is primed to make an impact on his new team.
"I'm excited more than anything," Russell said prior to Monday's summer league matchup against the Lakers - his first since signing with the team. "It's a huge opportunity just to take another step and learn from a great group of guys that marked their way in this league."
Russell - who agreed to a reported four year, $117 million extension Sunday evening - averaged 21.1 points and seven assists 81 games. His performance earned him the right to negotiate a max extension with the Nets. However, in the weeks leading up to free agency, with the Nets pursuing a Durant-Kyrie Irving partnership, Russell's days in Brooklyn seemed to be numbered. On Sunday morning, the Nets agreed to a deal with the Nets, opening the door for Russell's Golden State arrival.
"I knew it was an opportunity," Russell said. "I knew it was something that could possibly be true. And we had to wait 'til a few other piece kind of did what it did, and then it kind of came to the light."
"That's the business of it. It is what it is," Russell added. "You just put yourself in a position to go somewhere a long period of time. It may not be what it is and that's the business. I've come to a realization of that, and I understand that. So every situation I'm in, I know the business side of it We'll see. I can't predict it."
To accommodate Russell's four-year, $117 maximum contract, the Warriors dealt Andre Iguodala and a lightly protected 2024 first-round pick to the Grizzlies. Additionally, Russell addition all but squandered any hope of retaining free agents DeMarcus Cousins, Jordan Bell and Quinn Cook. However, though Russell signed for a large number, there have been murmurs he could be traded next summer to free up cap space or find a top-flight free agent.
"That's the business of it. It is what it is," Russell said. "You just put yourself in a position to go somewhere a long period of time. It may not be what it is and that's the business. I've come to a realization of that, and I understand that. So every situation I'm in, I know the business side of it We'll see. I can't predict it."
Russell enters Golden State during a transition period for the franchise. With Durant gone, Klay Thompson injured for at least of the season and a Western Conference that's seen the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers land top-flight free agents, the Warriors are no longer prohibitive favorites to win the title for the first time in a half-decade. Still, Russell believes his talent will more than help.
"It's all about opportunity in this league," Russell said. "So it's about taking advantage of it."