D’Angelo Russell watched the last three seasons as Ricky Rubio helped in the development of Donovan Mitchell in Utah and Devin Booker in Phoenix.
Even though Russell is a point guard who likes to have the ball in his hands, he envisions himself and Rubio working together without a hitch the way Rubio did with Mitchell and Booker.
“When you’re a young scorer in the game, you tend to make things harder for yourself at the end of games,” Russell said. “Once teams start making adjustments and start trapping or start denying and making it harder for you, you need a player like that to relieve you.”
The Wolves likely will have no hesitation in playing Rubio and Russell together for significant chunks of time when the season opens Dec. 22. Russell played in 12 games for the Wolves after the trade from Golden State in early February, and he played just one of those games with center Karl-Anthony Towns. Russell mentioned he has been watching a lot of film of Towns’ games to see how he can best complement him.
Russell thinks Towns will come back a stronger player and person after an offseason in which he lost his mother, Jacqueline, to COVID-19.
“I just think you’re getting a killer,” Russell said. “He was already a killer. I said it multiple times, I think his mentality is going to change; he’s going to bring a different energy to this game. I think that will make it easier for everybody. The better he is, the better we’ll be.”
Russell said this will be the first time in his career he will have the dynamic of playing with a skilled big man like Towns and another point guard/playmaker in Rubio. It’s a dynamic he’s excited to see shake out on the court after months of waiting to play again.
“The sky’s the limit,” Russell said. “You forget what everybody is specialized at. You’ll just see the right plays made. The sooner we can get to that and start dissecting film and get down on the court with each other, I think that will speed up the process.”
McLaughlin not close
The Wolves and restricted free agent point guard Jordan McLaughlin remain apart on contract negotiations, sources said.
Both sides need to find common ground on the length and value of the contract, one source added. McLaughlin was one of the Wolves’ two-way players last season but became a regular presence on the NBA roster as the season progressed. He could slot in to a third point-guard role on the roster behind Russell and Rubio.
The Wolves signed St. Croix Lutheran product Ade Murkey to a training camp contract. Murkey played in 118 games over four years at the University of Denver, averaging 10.6 points, four rebounds and two assists per game. Murkey is the Crusaders’ all-time leader in assists and steals and set the single-season scoring record in his senior season. The Wolves also officially signed forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to a training camp deal.