Fast Breaks: Russell, Noel, Heat, McRae

D'Angelo Russell says hes excited about his new opportunity with the Nets.

The trade that sent guard D’Angelo Russell from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Brooklyn Nets in June admittedly had him feeling surprised.

But today, he appears to be viewing it as the fresh start he probably needed.

“I was excited,” he told WFAN radio in New York (via NetsDaily). “I was excited to get a new opportunity to start over, but it definitely caught me off guard. You see guys get traded you never think it would have to be you until it does. New step for me.”

The Lakers drafted Russell with the No. 2 overall pick in 2015, viewing him as a big, confident point guard with an ability to score with ease. But he definitely had some issues — starting with the whole incident involving teammate Nick Young in Year One, to charges of a lack of desire on defense from fans (and perhaps the coaching staff).

Rusell, 21, averaged 15.6 points and 4.8 assists last season, showing improvement from his rookie season. Still, the Lakers won just 26 games, and when Magic Johnson took over the team’s basketball operations, it appeared Russell was living on borrowed time in LA.

Then, when the Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball — another big point guard who can do it all, and with LA ties to boot — it was clear that time for Russell was up.

“It’s a business, man,” was how Russell described the trade in the WFAN interview.

That business has made him the centerpiece of a Nets makeover that also includes small forward DeMarre Carroll, sharpshooter Allen Crabbe and center Timofey Mozgov, Russell’s teammate with the Lakers.

“I think we have an underrated group of guys,” Russell said. “We have a good group of vets sprinkled in there and then we got some young talent that still got urgency so I feel like we can definitely put something together.”

Here’s more from around the NBA:

  • Free agent center Nerlens Noel is seeking a maximum contract, according to a post from Hoops Rumors. Noel is a restricted free agent, meaning the Dallas Mavericks can match any offer. It’s hard to envision him getting a max deal this late in the summer, though. Noel was selected with the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft, and spent the early part of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers. He was traded to the Mavs in February.
  • The Miami Heat have officially signed free agent forward Jordan Mickey, the team announced via press release. Mickey has played 41 total games with the Boston Celtics over two seasons.
  • Free agent shooting guard Jordan McRae has signed a one-year contract with Baskonia of the EuroLeague, freelance writer David Pick reports. McRae has spent time in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, and most recently, Cleveland Cavaliers.